A group of 19 farmers from the United Soybean Board (USB) and the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) Trade Policy and International Affairs (TPIA) Committee gathered in Washington, D.C. March 14 to review and approve USSEC’s global export promotion objectives for 2013. Other stakeholders including USSEC members and Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs) also attended the planning meeting.
Staff presented proposed strategies and project outlines for the coming year to get feedback from the farmers about the strategic approach and tactics planned. The joint audience was made up of grower leaders from the TPIA Committee and USB’s four Action Team chairs and International Opportunities Target Area Coordinator. The group voted unanimously to approve the plan. USSEC staff will work over the next two months to finalize the details of the project proposals.
Many of the proposals considered will be incorporated into the 2014 Unified Export Strategy (UES) application for USDA market development funds. The USDA programs are designed to complement privately-funded international marketing and market access activities undertaken by U.S. agricultural organizations. The funding is allocated on a competitive basis and USDA will consider applications from more than 80 program participants to win a share of more than $250 million that is normally available for the program. The USDA application deadline will be officially established through a Federal Register notice in the coming weeks, but the deadline routinely falls between mid May to early June.
ASA is the official USDA program participant and the TPIA Committee directs funding decisions for those program dollars. The TPIA Committee will approve the final slate of projects before the UES application is submitted to USDA. Similarly, USB’s four Action Teams determine how to invest national checkoff dollars in international programs. USB will set an overall international investment allocation in the coming weeks which will be included in the funding application to USDA in order to demonstrate the level of industry matching funds. Last year, the national and state checkoffs contributed 23.5 million to international programs representing more than 200% of the USDA investment.