The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is issuing a new regulation to implement the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP). The ATP provides assistance to U.S. agricultural industries to conduct activities that promote U.S. agricultural commodities in foreign markets for commodities impacted by tariffs, including activities that address existing or potential non-tariff barriers to trade. This rule specifies, among other things, eligibility requirements, activities eligible for reimbursement, contribution requirements, and application procedures for the ATP. This rule also proposes a new information collection for required program information. Specific program requirements will be set forth in future Notices of Funds Availability (NOFAs) announced through the Grants.gov website.
The nature and severity of financial impacts of recent international trade actions (for example, the imposition of tariffs by other countries on U.S. agricultural products) are disrupting the marketing of U.S. agricultural commodities and are outside of the control of the industries that are being negatively affected. In response to these actions by foreign governments, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) has decided to exercise its authority under Section 5 of the CCC Charter Act, which includes authority for CCC to use its general powers to “aid in the development of foreign markets for . . . agricultural commodities . . . .” [15 U.S.C. 714c(f)], to provide assistance to eligible organizations for market promotion activities. ATP funding is intended to ameliorate the negative impacts of recent international trade actions on U.S. agriculture by developing, maintaining, and expanding commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural commodities and products. ATP Participants may receive assistance for either generic or branded promotion activities as well as assistance to conduct activities to address existing or potential non-tariff barriers to trade.
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will administer the ATP on behalf of the CCC. Specific program requirements and details for applying for assistance under the ATP will be set forth in future NOFAs announced through the Grants.gov website.
The ATP is a cost-share program that is designed to reimburse nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organizations, nonprofit state regional trade groups, state agencies, U.S. agricultural cooperatives, and other entities that conduct approved foreign market promotion activities and can demonstrate damages suffered as a result of tariffs imposed on U.S. agricultural products in 2018/2019. When considering eligible nonprofit U.S. trade organizations, the CCC gives priority to organizations that have the broadest producer representation and affiliated industry participation of the commodity being promoted. Eligible activities can be generic or branded in nature. In order to be eligible for ATP assistance, U.S. for-profit entities shall be limited to those whose size does not exceed 300 percent of the small business size standards established for their particular industry and published at 13 CFR part 121, Small Business Size Regulations. Eligible for-profit entities may participate in an ATP Participant’s brand promotion program. Any ATP Participant that operates a brand promotion program will be required to establish brand program operational procedures. An ATP Participant shall publicize its ATP program and make participation possible for commercial entities throughout the relevant commodity sector or, in the case of State Regional Trade Groups (SRTGs), throughout the corresponding region.
The Unified Export Strategy (UES) internet-based system will be used to receive ATP applications and to receive reimbursement requests from ATP Participants. This is the system that the CCC uses for applications to and reimbursement requests under similar CCC programs, including the Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program (FMD), the Emerging Markets Program (EMP), the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program (TASC), and the Quality Samples Program (QSP). Any eligible organization that applied for the 2019 MAP and FMD will be able to add application information specific to the ATP to its existing 2019 UES submission. Details about this process will be announced in the ATP NOFAs.
Information required in an applicant’s application are detailed in the regulation and include, among other things, a program justification describing the current market situation and a strategic plan that describes all proposed activities and how they will help accomplish the applicant’s objective to increase exports and develop access to new markets. The CCC will, subject to the availability of funds, approve those applications that it considers to present the best opportunity for developing, maintaining, or expanding export markets for U.S. agricultural commodities.
Participants in the ATP will be required to contribute a total amount in goods, services, and/or cash equal to at least 10 percent of the value of resources to be provided by the CCC for all generic promotion activities proposed to be undertaken by the ATP Participant. Branded participants will also be required to contribute in goods, services, and/or cash equal to at least 50 percent of all brand promotion activities they undertake under the ATP.
Lists of expenses eligible and ineligible for reimbursement under the ATP are also included in the regulation. Procedures for requesting reimbursement for eligible expenditures, or, if appropriate, for advances of program funds, are described in the regulation. Because it is critical that program funds are managed and accounted for properly, and focused on achieving results, paragraphs regarding financial management, reporting on outcomes that tie assistance directly to increased trade, evaluation, compliance review, and ethical conduct are included. Finally, to ensure that funds provided under the ATP are expended in a cost-effective manner and protected from fraud, provisions regarding contracting and anti-fraud requirements are delineated in the regulation.