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Title III of the Farm Bill: Agricultural Trade and Food Assistance Programs | Insights

The $428 billion Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 115-334), or more commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill, is set to expire Sept. 30, 2023, impacting virtually every part of the agriculture sector. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data indicates that exports of U.S. agricultural products totaled $177 billion in 2021, an 18 percent increase from 2020.

With U.S. food and agriculture producers increasing reliance on exports for income – more than 20 percent of U.S. food and agriculture production is exported annually – Congress will have conversations on how the 2023 Farm Bill’s trade and food assistance programs can create new market opportunities for U.S. farmers and producers and address food insecurity globally.

The trade title (Title III) of the Farm Bill includes a range of programs designed to alleviate hunger and improve global food security, and to facilitate exports of U.S. food and agriculture products.

Export credit guaranty programs provide important financing tools that facilitate foreign purchases of U.S. food and agriculture products. In addition, export market development programs fund a range of activities to open and expand foreign markets for U.S. food and agriculture products, while trade missions put U.S. producers and exporters in touch with importers and distributors in key foreign markets.

Advocating for the reauthorization of these programs during the 2023 Farm Bill negotiations, under way now, can ensure their availability in the coming years.

What Is in the Farm Bill Trade Title?

The Farm Bill Trade Title seeks to achieve several objectives. First, it authorizes U.S. international food assistance programs that seek to alleviate poverty and improve global food security. These programs provide much needed nutrition to food insecure populations, build goodwill in these countries and can pave the way for U.S. exports as developing countries become emerging markets.

Second, Title III provides important financial tools to facilitate U.S. food and agriculture exports. Many U.S. exporters are eager to break into emerging markets but may be weary of extending credit to foreign importers. The Title III export credit guarantee program, known as GSM-102, reduces risk for U.S. private lenders and exporters, while the facility guarantee program facilitates financing for the purchase of U.S. goods and services to establish or improve agriculture-related infrastructure in emerging markets.

Third, Title III includes programs that provide overseas marketing and promotional activities assistance, address foreign import constraints or expand export opportunities for U.S. agricultural commodities, facilitate technical assistance that supports exports of generic U.S. agricultural commodities and products, and address sanitary, phytosanitary and technical barriers to U.S. fruit and vegetable exports.

Fourth, Title III funding for international science and technology programs facilitates technical exchanges that advance the understanding and use of conservation techniques and agricultural biotechnology, promote food security and economic growth, and provide assistance and training.

Finally, Title III directs the USDA Secretary to “increase the inclusion of, and report on, tribal agricultural and food products in trade-related activities.”

Why Should Title III Reauthorization Matter to You?

The aforementioned programs comprise the Farm Bill’s efforts to facilitate U.S. food and agriculture exports while simultaneously improving global food security. These efforts operate on a continuum – from assistance to food-insecure populations to loan guarantees and other financial tools that reduce risk to U.S. exporters. Food and agriculture producers should voice their support for and utilize Title III programs that open and expand foreign markets. Lenders can grow their business among food and agriculture producers by participating in Farm Bill credit guarantee programs.

As such, stakeholders not only should advocate for the reauthorization of these programs, but also should request that Congress fully appropriates the programs and that the administration implements the programs in a manner that builds strong markets abroad.

Holland & Knight’s Farm Bill blog series will provide you with insight into what is in the package, emerging areas of interest at the federal level and how to ensure that your priorities are included in the final package. For more information on the 2023 Farm Bill and the latest information on Farm Bill negotiations, please contact the authors.

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