USDA awards $200 million to expand export markets

by Eric Schroeder
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The organizations, which contribute an average 130% cost share, conduct activities that help maintain or increase demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Nov. 15 unveiled details on how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will disperse $200 million to more than 70 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand export markets for U.S. farm and food products through the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program.

“USDA and the U.S. agricultural industry work together in a unique public-private partnership to open and grow markets around the world for high-quality, American-made farm and food products,” Vilsack said. “The federal investment in these programs is multiplied by industry matching funds, not only boosting agricultural export revenue and volume, but also supporting farm income and enhancing the overall U.S. economy.”

Under MAP, the FAS will provide $173.5 million in fiscal year 2017 funding to 70 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Grain groups that have been awarded funds include the U.S. Grains Council ($6.7 million), the U.S. Wheat Associates ($6.1 million), the American Soybean Association ($5.3 million), the USA Rice Federation and U.S. Rice Producers Association ($2.9 million), and the National Sunflower Association ($1.1 million).

MAP funds are used by U.S. agricultural producers to promote their products to consumers around the globe through activities such as market research, technical assistance, and support for participation in trade fairs and exhibits. MAP participants contribute an average 137% match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives, according to the USDA.

Meanwhile, under FMD, the FAS said it will allocate $26.6 million in fiscal year 2017 funds to 26 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. Grain groups that have been awarded funds include the American Soybean Association ($6.6 million), the U.S. Wheat Associates ($3.3 million), the U.S. Grains Council ($2.9 million), the USA Rice Federation ($1.1 million), and the North American Millers’ Association ($56,427).

FMD funds are geared toward generic promotion of U.S. commodities, rather than consumer-oriented promotion of branded products, and preference is given to organizations that represent an entire industry or are nationwide in membership and scope. The organizations, which contribute an average 130% cost share, conduct activities that help maintain or increase demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas, the USDA said.

A recent study conducted by noted land grant university economists found that MAP and FMD contributed $309 billion to farm export revenue between 1977 and 2014, an average of $8.2 billion per year. From 2002 through 2014, the programs boosted average annual farm cash income by $2.1 billion, annual U.S. economic output by $39.3 billion, annual gross domestic product (GDP) by $16.9 billion, and annual labor income by $9.8 billion, according to the USDA. In addition, the programs generated economic activity that directly created 239,000 new jobs, including 90,000 farm sector jobs.

A list of fiscal year 2017 MAP funding recipients is available here, while a list of fiscal year 2017 FMD funding recipients is available here
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