Ag Export Coalition Hopeful Senate Ag Committee Will Support Continued Export Program FundingMon, 23 Apr 2012 18:11:05 CDT
Members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports sent a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Minority Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) urging them to maintain funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) export programs when the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry considers reauthorization of a new Farm Bill. The coalition members called specifically for funding the Market Access Program (MAP) at no less than $200 million annually and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program at no less than $34.5 million, the same funding levels in the current Farm Bill.
"We were very pleased to see full funding for MAP and FMD in the Farm Bill draft Chairwoman Stabenow released late last Friday," said coalition chairman Mike Wootton, a senior vice president with Sunkist Growers cooperative. "We urged the entire committee to support that position."
That is important, Wootton said, because foreign governments are seeking to emulate the success of MAP and FMD with their own competing programs.
MAP and FMD are distinct programs administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service that address different aspects of export market development. The programs bring together non-profit U.S. agricultural trade associations, farmer cooperatives, non-profit state-regional trade groups, small businesses and USDA to develop results-oriented, strategic plans and share the costs of implementing them to support the U.S. agricultural industry's international marketing.
"More than 1.1 million Americans have jobs that depend on agricultural exports," the organizations said. "We are strongly supportive of the Administration's commendable goal through the National Export initiative of doubling U.S. exports over five years. For U.S. agriculture, MAP and FMD are key tools in making this a successful effort."
MAP and FMD are highly successful, cost-effective public-private partnerships with a far-reaching economic impact, the coalition members said. The farmers, cooperatives and small businesses must first put up their own money to be eligible for MAP and FMD funds. With MAP, for example, estimated industry investment is now more than 60 percent of total annual export development spending, up from about 45 percent in 1996 and less than 30 percent in 1991.
The letter cited a recent study by IHS Global Insight finding that MAP and FMD are highly effective programs with a substantial return on investment. The USDA-commissioned study showed that increased MAP and FMD spending in market development since 2002 substantially increased U.S. export market share and increased U.S. agricultural export value by $6.1 billion per year. The study also found that export gains between 2002 and 2009 substantially increased U.S farm cash receipts and net income that, in turn, reduced U.S. domestic farm support payments and the net cost of farm programs by $54 million per year. Overall, the study showed, for every additional $1 expended by government and industry on market development during this period, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35.
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