USDA has announced the allocation of $234.5 million to 70 U.S. trade organizations to help promote American food and agricultural products overseas.

“In today’s highly competitive international markets, we must provide our exporters with the resources they need to compete overseas during the 21st century,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“When you consider the current global financial crisis, increasing production in key competitor countries and aggressive use of export promotion tools by our competitors, USDA’s market development programs are more important than ever.”

The funding was allocated under the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program, both administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The Market Access Program uses funds from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to share the costs of overseas market development and promotional activities with U.S. nonprofit agricultural trade organizations, state regional trade groups, and cooperatives.

Activities conducted with Market Access Program funding include market research, consumer promotions for retail products, technical capacity building, and seminars to educate overseas customers.

Under the Foreign Market Development program, USDA’s CCC establishes a partnership with nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organizations. Funding priority is given to organizations that represent an entire industry or are nationwide in membership and scope.

Program activities focus on reducing market impediments, improving the processing capabilities of importers, modifying restrictive regulatory codes and standards in foreign markets, and identifying new markets or uses for U.S. products.

For more information about Foreign Agricultural Service’s market development programs, contact the Office of Trade Programs at (202) 720-4327, or visit www.fas.usda.gov/mos/marketdev.asp.

Fiscal 2010 Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program allocations include:

Market Access Program

• American Forest & Paper Association, $8,091,683.

• American Peanut Council, $2,136,001.

• American Seed Trade Association, $28,178.

• American Soybean Association, $5,171,415.

• Cotton Council International, $20,332,612.

• National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, $2,336,105.

• National Sunflower Association, $1,148,294.

• National Watermelon Promotion Board, $231,688.

• Southern United States Trade Association, $6,419,114.

• Sunkist Growers, Inc., $4,011,195.

• The Catfish Institute, $285,002.

• U.S. Grains Council, $7,389,253.

• U.S. Wheat Associates, $5,487,119.

• USA Rice Federation/U.S. Rice Producers Association, $3,771,169.

Foreign Market Development Program

• American Peanut Council, $693,985.

• American Seed Trade Association, $214,329.

• American Soybean Association, $6,825,849.

• Cotton Council International, $4,753,847.

• National Sunflower Association, $242,286.

• U.S. Grains Council, $4,033,859.

• U.S. Wheat Associates, $3,845,230.

• USA Rice Federation, $1,543,614.