American farmers and rural businesses need continued investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program to make up for lost export opportunities in the pandemic and to fight foreign competition. That is the message the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports sent in letters to House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee leaders. The letter was signed by 130 agricultural organizations, including American Feed Industry Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, and National Cattleman’s Beef Association, North American Meat Institute, and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
MAP and FMD are cost-share export market development programs funded in the 2018 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
“Studies show these public-private programs provide a rate of return that far exceeds their public expense,” said Robbie Minnich, Coalition chair and senior government relations representative at National Cotton Council. “Our organizations are asking the leadership to provide $255 million for Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation apportioned under the Farm Bill, and from that amount, MAP should receive at least $200 million and the FMD program receive at least $34.5 million.”
The letters state that MAP and FMD industry participants now provide 73% of total funding. Yet many of the co-signing organizations expect intense foreign export competition as markets reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Union, for example, announced in December 2020 that it will allocate the equivalent of $222 million to promote agri-food products in China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico.
The groups explained that fruitful trade partnerships take time, “and these funds for such activities as buyers’ missions, trade shows, and in-country meetings go a long way toward promoting U.S. agricultural trade.”
One such example, they wrote, is the growth in U.S. food and agricultural exports to China over the last fifteen years, from $7.7 billion in food and agricultural exports in 2006 to $28.7 billion in 2020.
Additionally, for every dollar invested, coalition partners say they are able to return more than $28 in export gains. Over a decade, the programs are responsible for export growth totaling $309 billion and 240,000 full and part-time jobs, the coalition further noted.
“We finally see new opportunities to start overcoming two and a half years of trade conflict and pandemic restrictions,” Minnich said. “Fully funded export programs are critical to helping U.S. farmers, ranchers and food exporters keep pace with the rest of the world’s exporting countries.”