WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), U.S. Wheat Associates and more than 120 other members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports wrote leaders of the House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee last week, urging them to maintain funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) export promotion programs.

The subcommittee is set to mark up on May 24 its version of the FY2012 appropriations bill covering agriculture and Food and Drug Administration programs.

In their letter, the coalition members asked that the Market Access Program (MAP) be funded at $200 million and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program to be funded at $34.5 million, both of which were the authorized amounts in the 2008 Farm Bill and historical funding levels.

Both programs help support overseas market development work done by commodity industries, which is essential to continued strong ag exports. U.S. Wheat participates in both of these programs, which match farmer dollars contributed through state commissions.

In writing appropriators, coalition members cited a recent study by IHS Global Insight that showed for every additional $1 expended by government and industry on cost-share export market development programs between 2002 and 2009, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35.

The study also found that U.S. domestic farm support payments were reduced by roughly $54 million annually due to higher prices from increased demand abroad, thus reducing the net cost of farm programs.

The return on investment in these programs is even greater for the U.S. wheat industry. A 2009 study showed that the overall average revenue benefit to the entire wheat industry from combined producer and government investment was about $115 for each dollar spent.

Signed into law in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, MAP shares the costs of international marketing and promotional activities such as market research, trade shows, trade services and consumer promotions.

In contrast, the FMD program helps USW and other U.S. producers, processors and exporters develop new foreign markets and increase market share in existing markets.