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Continued investment in market development sought

Coalition urges legislators to fund Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development.

A letter from an coalition of agricultural groups urged continued investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in the fiscal year 2021 budget. In the letter to House and Senate agricultural appropriations subcommittee members, the groups underscored the importance of the programs to agricultural exports and long-term market demand, especially as growers grapple with escalation of the U.S.-China trade war and re-establishing market share.

“American farmers and the food they produce need continued investment in" MAP and FMD, the letter noted, adding, "This past year has highlighted that need as our groups have rushed to recover from tariff escalation and reestablish commercial ties with our most valued overseas customers."

The groups stated in the letter, “We ask that you provide $255 million for agricultural trade promotion and facilitation and that, within this amount, MAP receive at least $200 million and the FMD program receive at least $34.5 million. Working to rebuild our export market share requires every dollar these programs provide.”

Since 2017, exports to China, the fourth-largest U.S. export market, have been halved. Growth in global trade overall sank to 1%, down from 4% in 2018 and 6% in 2017. Formidable global competitors Argentina and Brazil have quickly replaced U.S. suppliers. China’s imports from Brazil are up $20 billion since 2017. Moreover, Australia and Russia saw exports to China grow by a similar amount. “With the critical investments of FMD and MAP dollars, U.S. agricultural exports have proven resilient and are poised to reclaim this lost ground,” the letter stated.

Keep in mind that MAP and FMD are cost-share programs requiring farmers and participating organizations to contribute as much as a 100% match. They continue to be excellent examples of very effective public/private partnerships. While government is an important partner in this effort, industry funds are now estimated to represent about 73% of total annual spending on market development and promotion, up from roughly 45% in 1996 and less than 30% in 1991.

For every dollar invested, the coalition said its partners return more than $28 in export gains, and over a decade, these programs have been responsible for export growth totaling $309 billion and 240,000 full-time and part-time jobs. These programs are fueling the nation’s food and agriculture engines, and with modest increases, they could do even more, the groups wrote.

“That’s why we’re asking that your subcommittee use discretionary dollars to provide $7 million -- less than 3% of the program investment -- for [the U.S. Department of Agriculture's] administrative and operational costs. With administrative and operational funding assured, the full investment of MAP and FMD can be realized for the intended purpose of U.S. agricultural export promotion and long-term market development,” they wrote.

Read the full letter here.

TAGS: Policy
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