Trade and fertilizer were big topics of conversation when Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed attendees at Commodity Classic in New Orleans. The secretary announced that the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service added four new mission trips to its 2022 schedule.
“We indicated a desire to expand on the number of agricultural missions, trade missions we are going to conduct in 2022, with additional opportunities in the UK, London in June, the Philippines in July – that’s our ninth-largest market, by the way – Kenya in October, late October into November, and to Spain in November and early December. And this is designed to emphasize the important role that we see in expanding opportunity beyond our reliance on one or two key markets.
The agency is looking at finding new markets for American commodities. “We want to make sure that we’re active in a number of other emerging markets: North Africa and the Middle East are two, in particular, where I think we have some real opportunity, and Southeast Asia, of course, where we’re already engaged, and we need to expand on our efforts there.”
Much-higher fertilizer prices and short supplies are making life difficult for U.S. farmers. Vilsack says USDA is making an investment to help with that problem. “We announced, today, the availability of $250 million that we want to invest in fertilizer expansion in the U.S.: independently produced, made in America, hopefully embracing innovation and supporting sustainable farming operations. We expect to have the application process available for applications sometime this summer.”
He also announced that the agency extending application deadlines for the Climate-Smart Commodity Program. “As you know, we announced some time ago the billion dollars it’s available for partnerships under our Climate-Smart Commodity Program. There’s a lot of interest in this, and producer groups who are putting together proposals want just a little more time. They asked for a 30-day extension on submissions, and so we’ve agreed to do that. So, the deadline for larger-scale projects is May sixth. For the smaller projects, that was May 27, and we’re expanding that to June 10.”