The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced a new program to help American farmers develop and maintain export markets, known as the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program — or RAPP.
The program — a $1.3 billion investment across many commodities — makes a timely arrival as the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), created five years ago in reaction to the Chinese tariffs on agricultural products, is expiring, according to a news release from the USDA.
“It’s basically the ATP with a new name,” Washington Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover told his board members at a recent meeting.
That’s very welcome news for the commission, which was among a handful of commodity groups that announced support for the new program this week. The other USDA program that supports export promotions, the Market Access Program (MAP), is funded under the Farm Bill at $200 million annually — a level that has not risen in over 15 years, according to a news release from the commission.
“Funding from the Market Access Program has been essential to our success over the years, and the introduction of ATP funds provided additional opportunities to promote Washington apples in new and even more exciting ways,” Lindsey Huber, international marketing manager for the Washington Apple Commission said in a statement. “We’re eager to continue the work we started with the ATP program and believe RAPP will allow the Washington Apple Commission the opportunity to further promote Washington apples in our export markets.”
Access to RAPP funds will require matching dollars from commodity groups, as ATP and MAP funds do, but it’s a worthwhile investment, Fryhover told his board.
“Last time, we asked for $10 million. They gave us $10 million and it cost us $1 million,” he said.
That funding allowed the commission to advance its digital and social media marketing efforts in addition to on-the-ground promotional activities, according to the commission.
The Northwest pear and cherry industries also received ATP funding, at $2.1 million and $700,000, respectively.
—by Kate Prengaman