USMEF President Invites Coburn to Examine MAP Program More DeeplyWed, 15 Aug 2012 14:32:32 CDT
It’s no secret that U.S. Senator Tom Coburn is a strong opponent of the Market Access Program. Under the program, the USDA matches dollars put up by the private sector to promote U.S. agricultural products. The private funding comes from a variety of sources including checkoff dollars from livestock producers as well as from others like U.S. Wheat Associates, the United Soybean Board and others.
Coburn would like to see the federal matching dollars cut out of the equation. He drew fire earlier this year after offering a report critical of the MAP program, and offering an amendment to cut the program’s funding from the Senate’s version of the 2012 farm bill.
Industry groups were quick to respond to Coburn's position. The Wheatgrowers Association, American Farmers and Ranchers, the National Council of Farmer's Cooperatives, and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau urged Coburn to rethink his position.
In a recent interview with Ron Hays, Phil Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, discussed the challenge presented by Dr. Coburn’s position.
Seng said he thinks Sen. Coburn is misperceiving the value of the MAP program. He said he would love the opportunity to go over the program in minute detail with the senator to demonstrate how MAP helps Oklahoma cattle and hog producers.
“I invite Senator Coburn and anybody from his staff that would like to come and see our programs and what they mean to the American producer and the Oklahoma producer in particular-it’s significant.
“Right now, from the export market, we derive about $210 from a fed beef. If you look at the hides and the tallow and everything else, it’s about $350, and that’s gone up dramatically. If you look at the statistics from when we had BSE to today, we’ve already exceeded where we were prior to BSE. This is done because of this government program, this MAP program.”
Seng said Coburn’s position often does not reflect the positive values of the MAP program, and often misses the point because his research doesn’t go deep enough.
“He talked about a Twitter program that we had in Japan. That total program cost us about $25,000 and reached over five million people. If you were going to advertise on television it would cost you probably two-and-a-half million dollars. And we did this for $25,000.
“If you get into the details of why and how this was done, what that also did was have Japanese talking about our product to other Japanese, which is always the best thing you could have. They were endorsing our product.
“I would look forward to asking him to come visit some of these markets such as Korea and Japan where there is the most concern and really see for himself. The wise senator would probably have a different opinion about this if he could actually see it in person.”
Seng said there are studies which show about $35 is returned for every dollar spent in the MAP program.
“I don’t know of a government-private industry marriage that’s been any more successful than the MAP program,” he said.
“Last year we exported $141 billion worth of agricultural products worldwide. The MAP program is the spine, it’s the core, that’s the basis for a lot of this growth. Taking that away would really disadvantage us vis a vis the competition. It would be a huge setback.”
You can hear the full interview with Phil Seng by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
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