WASHINGTON, DC, US — The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and US Wheat Associates (USW) are providing advocacy tools and resources for engaging members of the US Congress in support of legislation aimed at agricultural export market development, the two associations announced Feb. 16.

As Congress ramps up farm bill reauthorization talks, the wheat industry has welcomed the Expanding Agricultural Exports Act and Agriculture Export Promotion Act. According to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture, the United States exported 21 million tonnes of wheat in 2022 with a total export value of $8.49 billion. Half of the wheat grown in the United States is exported.

This legislation would strengthen the effectiveness of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development program (FMD). MAP’s authorized funding has not changed since 2006, and FMD funding has remained the same since 2002, eroding their effectiveness. If enacted, this legislation would double funding for these agricultural export market development programs administered by the FAS.

To highlight the importance of this legislation, NAWG has launched a grassroots campaign on its website to help wheat growers encourage their members of Congress support these legislative efforts and have them included as part of the 2023 farm bill. 

“We are grateful for the work being done in Congress to lay the foundation for a strong 2023 farm bill that invests in programs that promote US wheat and other agricultural products,” said Nicole Berg, president of NAWG and a Washington state wheat farmer. “However, even with these marker bills that invest in the MAP and FMD program, we still have a long way to go in educating members of Congress on why these resources are needed. We need wheat growers to help spread the word and tell the story of why this programmatic investment is necessary and how it would help grow our national economy. 

“The campaign makes it easy for growers to contact their legislators, which truly makes a difference in how these decisions are made and votes are cast. I hope all growers participate, so our voices are heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill.” 

A recent econometric study conducted by agricultural economists at IHS Market and Texas A&M University predicted that doubling funding for these programs would generate an additional $44.4 billion in US agricultural exports from 2024 to 2029. This would directly benefit farmers, livestock producers, dairy operators and small businesses as they work to maintain and expand their global presence.

“Our organization wants to thank our friends at NAWG for focusing on the need to increase MAP and FMD funding in the next farm bill,” said Rhonda K. Larson, USW chair and a wheat farmer from Minnesota. “Studies have shown that the return on investment from MAP and FMD is very strong – but our activities overseas and impact are limited today by the erosion of these resources over time.”