WITH the farm bill officially on the books, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded millions of dollars to more than 60 agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for U.S. products.
On April 17, USDA also begin accepting applications for 2015 export development program funding.
"Now that Congress has passed the farm bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."
Through the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities.
The program, which focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, is used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products and bulk and intermediate commodities.
Through MAP, FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 171% match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match to promote branded products, USDA said.
Cotton Council International received the largest individual amount, at $15.424 million, followed by $14.074 million for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Other notables for the industry include nearly $5 million to the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, $6.7 million to the U.S. Grains Council, $4 million to the U.S. Dairy Export Council and $1.3 million to the Pet Food Institute.
The Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program focuses on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products.
Under the FMD Program, FAS will allocate $24.6 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. The organizations, which, on average, contribute nearly triple the amount they receive in federal resources, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas.
The American Soybean Assn. received $5 million, U.S. Wheat Associates got $4 million, the Grains Council got $2.4 million, USMEF got $1 million and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council received an additional $1 million.
Applications for 2015 export development program funding are now being accepted. In addition to MAP and the FMD Program, eligible organizations can apply for funding through the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Program, Quality Samples Program (QSP) and Emerging Markets Program (EMP), which were all authorized as part of the 2014 farm bill.
The TASC Program funds projects that address sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. The 2014 farm bill amended the program to allow participants to address technical barriers to trade regardless of whether they are related to a sanitary or phytosanitary barrier.
QSP helps agricultural trade organizations provide product samples to potential importers. EMP provides funding for technical assistance activities to promote exports to emerging markets.
USDA's international market development programs have had a significant and positive impact on U.S. agricultural exports. An independent study released in 2010 found that trade promotion programs like MAP and FMD provide $35 in economic benefits for every dollar spent by government and industry on market development.
The past five years represent the strongest period for agricultural exports in the history of the U.S. Farm exports in fiscal 2013 reached a record $140.9 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the U.S.