By Dr. Barbara P. Glenn, Chief Executive Officer
On your next drive across our beautiful countryside, imagine that as many as one out of every five rows of crops are exported. That means corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, pecans, and a diverse array of other agricultural products will eventually nourish someone outside of the borders of our country. Farmers and ranchers depend on international trade for their livelihood. But it doesn’t stop there. From rural communities to urban areas, small businesses that transform agriculture’s bounty into products that are sold around the globe also depend on export markets overseas.
That is why the Market Access Program (MAP), which helps our farmers, ranchers, and small businesses make inroads into the global marketplace, is so important.
The return on investment from MAP for the American taxpayer dollar is huge: $24 are earned for every $1 invested in foreign market development. As Congress begins debating the next Farm Bill, it has the opportunity to bolster U.S. international market development efforts, boost U.S. agricultural exports, create jobs, and help U.S. food and agriculture businesses in every corner of the country become more competitive by increasing MAP funding to $400 million.
The evidence for investing in growing agricultural exports is clear.
- The $150 billion in U.S. agricultural exports that occurred in 2014 produced an additional $190 billion in economic activity for a total of $340 billion of economic output;
- Those agricultural exports supported 1.1 million full time U.S. civilian jobs, including 800,000 in the non-farm sector (73% of the total employment effect) required to assemble, process and distribute agricultural products for exports;
- This represents 7,550 jobs for every $1 billion of agricultural export revenue.
Moreover, the $200 million of funding Congress currently allocates to MAP activities is just the beginning of the investment in this critical program. Private-sector groups like NASDA contribute an estimated $486.7 million annually to further invest in international market development and promotion.
The size of the foreign agricultural marketplace has tripled since Congress last approved an increase for MAP in 2002. The time is now for Congress to enhance funding for MAP so that program participants have the opportunity to service more customers who seek to buy an increasing volume and variety of products. Without this investment, our producers will be at a serious disadvantage to their foreign competitors that invest far more in market development programs than the U.S.
Congress has a huge opportunity to put food producers on the map by investing $400 million to MAP in the next Farm Bill.
This is part of an eight-week series. Please be sure to follow us next week as we take a look at how the next Farm Bill can provide enhanced opportunities for locally driven on-farm conservation practices.