The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports on Wednesday issued a request to farm bill negotiators for quick work on the completion of a farm bill. The future success of ag exports, the group suggests, are hanging in the balance.
The coalition, a group of more than 125 farm and food organizations, said mandatory funding of the Market Access Program should be no less than $200 million annually. MAP finances promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products.
The group said funding for the Foreign Market Development program, which develops, maintains, and expands long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products, should be no less than $34.5 million, the same funding levels as in the current farm bill.
Funding should be included in a short-term extension of the farm bill, should an extension be authorized, the group noted.
"At a time when foreign competitors are planning huge increases in agricultural export promotion, U.S. agriculture cannot afford less support from MAP and FMD to help sustain their livelihoods." Mike Wootton, coalition chairman, said.
The group's request echoes a similar call issued last week by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which noted that if the U.S. doesn't act, market share could disappear quickly.
Their case-in-point: a late November proposal from the European Commission to ramp up European ag export support with the "Enjoy, It's From Europe" campaign to the tune of $270.5 million by 2020. That's compared to the EU's current funding of $82.5 million, according to the European Commission.
Near the time of the EU's announcement, USMEF Chairman Mark Jagels reminded farm bill negotiators that 96% of the world's population lives outside the United States – a big group to serve.
"We need to focus our energy and resources on putting U.S. meat and other agricultural products on the world's tables," Jagels said in a USMEF statement. "If we don't, our competitors in the EU and around the world will gladly take that business off our hands."
And, Wootton added, it's not just the EU that is ramping up export supports. China and other countries' governments are heavily subsidizing their agricultural productions to generate exports in competition with the U.S., he noted.
"With a documented 35-to-one return to the U.S. economy from MAP and FMD, sensible observers have to see them as successful public-private programs that deserve to continue in the next farm bill," Wootton said.
"More than 1.1 million Americans have jobs that depend on agricultural exports and we strongly support the Administration's commendable goal through the National Export initiative of doubling U.S. exports. For U.S. agriculture, MAP and FMD are key tools in making this a successful effort."