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ATP funds awarded to Potatoes USA

Through two rounds of Agricultural Trade Promotion Program funding allocations, Potatoes USA was awarded over $5.1 million for activities and programs to increase U.S. potato export opportunities.

Potatoes USA’s strategy for the ATP funding includes focusing on new activities and projects in existing target markets while expanding into new markets to increase overall demand and opportunities. Creating programs in new markets will help to make up for lost sales in other markets due to recent trade barriers. With 83 planned and approved activities in over 15 countries, Potatoes USA is actively working to combat challenges to trade.

New markets in which Potatoes USA will be implementing ATP funded activities include Cambodia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Existing markets that will have activities supported by ATP are Burma, Central America, China, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Phil Hickman, chairman of Potatoes USA, said he appreciates the work by the Potatoes USA staff to secure these funds. “The impact of lost export sales does not just affect those growers who directly export but all U.S. growers as reduced demand can lead to lower prices for all producers,” he said. “These additional export development programs will be extremely important in assuring that U.S. potato exports continue to expand and the industry as a whole prospers.”

Potatoes USA is already utilizing the ATP funding. In July, Potatoes USA hired a new assistant international marketing manager, Tiffany Thompson, to work directly on ATP projects. Thompson is working alongside other staff members to support international marketing programs and initiate these new programs.

ATP-funded programs are being implemented as well. In early August, Potatoes USA hosted the 2019 International Seed Symposium in Denver. Over 50 participants, including 24 international guests from 10 countries, gathered at the largest seed symposium to date to network with other industry members, gather information on the seed potato export process, and learn about international markets. Topics presented at the event included growing practices and varieties, the certification process, the government’s role in exporting and trade finances.

After the symposium in Denver, the international guests toured seed potato farms, processing facilities, labs and research stations across the United States. Through the weeklong event, participants were able to talk directly with growers and exporters, and see the benefits of using U.S. seed potatoes.

Potatoes USA has also begun promotional efforts for U.S. fries with restaurant chains in Mexico. U.S. exports of fries to Mexico were severely reduced by the retaliatory tariffs put in place by Mexico and market share lost to Canada and the EU. These promotions will help regain the lost market share and reposition the U.S. as the market leader.

All Potatoes USA’s global programs -- foodservice, retail, ingredient, consumer, nutrition, market access and seed -- received supplemental ATP funding. Additional types of activities that will be funded by ATP include new market assessments, young chef trainings, support for market access efforts, online and retail promotions, technical trainings, chip stock reverse trade missions, consumer communication, and educational programs.

ATP funded activities are to take place within a three-year period, from now until 2022.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded ATP funding to 59 organizations to assist in promoting U.S. agricultural commodities in international markets impacted by recent tariffs, market access issues, and other trade barriers. The U.S. potato industry has experienced significant negative impacts due to these barriers.

Retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. potatoes by Mexico and China contributed to a total direct loss estimated at $121 million in the July 2018 to June 2019 marketing year. With further increasing tariffs this year and the difficulty of re-establishing trade relationships in the future, the long-term impact is even greater.

The U.S. withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017, and the remaining 11 nations signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2018. These events allow U.S. potato industry competitors to have duty-free access to markets within the CPTPP, including two major potato export markets, Japan and Vietnam.

The United States, meanwhile, faces tariffs of 8.5 to 20 percent. Because on these tariff imbalances, U.S. potato exports could lose $150 million in sales annually.

The activities Potatoes USA is carrying out through ATP will help to rebuild trade relationships, create new markets, and make up for lost sales.