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Seeking to help U.S. exporters of fruit, nuts and other commodities hurt by retaliatory tariffs find new export markets, a new program is months away from distributing millions for the effort.

Taking applications through Nov. 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will award funds from the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program by early next year.

The cost-share program, funded at $200 million, is targeted to help commodity groups expand export sales in new and existing markets to blunt the harm by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Mexico, the European Union and other countries. The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service said it expects to issue about 70 awards under the 2019 program, with the awards generally granted for a three-year project period.

To participate in the program, applications must be from a nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organization, a state or regional trade group, a U.S. agricultural cooperative, or a state government agency that can demonstrate damages suffered (reduced sales, lost revenue, decreased market share, etc.) as a result of tariffs imposed on U.S. agricultural products.

Funds awards can be used for generic or branded promotion activities, according to the notice.

For branded activities, only nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organizations, state or regional trade groups, U.S. agricultural cooperatives, and state government agencies can participate directly in the branded program.

The program puts heavy emphasis on the amount of economic harm growers have experienced because of the retaliatory tariffs, with expected funding awards reflecting the damage suffered, said Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pears USA.

Moffitt said Pears USA will concentrate on how Northwest pear growers have been hurt by Chinese retaliatory tariffs and how the group will use they would use program funds to expand export sales — potentially in markets like Mexico, Canada and India.

The program is similar to the Market Access Program in how it operates, Moffitt said. Pears USA hopes to receive perhaps $1.5 million from the program to expand markets and mitigate the effects of the retaliatory tariff China put in place, he said.

A recording of a web seminar about the program is available online.