Letter

Dear Senators,

American farmers and the food, fiber, and fuel they produce need continued investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. This past year has highlighted that need as our groups have rushed to recover from tariff escalation and reestablish commercial ties with our most valued overseas customers. We ask that you provide $255 million for Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation and that within this amount, MAP receive at least $200 million and the FMD program receive at least $34.5 million. Working to rebuild our export market share requires every dollar these programs provide.

Since 2017, exports to China, our fourth largest export market have been halved. Growth in global trade overall sank to 1%, down from 4% in 2018 and 6% in 2017. Our formidable global competitors Argentina and Brazil have raced in to replace US suppliers. China’s imports from Brazil are up by $20 billion since 2017. Moreover, Australia and Russia saw exports to China grow by a similar amount.

With the critical investments of FMD and MAP dollars, U.S. agricultural exports have proven resilient and are poised to reclaim this lost ground. We agree with USDA Secretary Perdue when he says, “we need to continue to expand our markets wherever we can to sell the bounty of the American harvest.” And these MAP and FMD investments help us do exactly that as we reclaim lost markets and successfully find new ones.

For instance, the Food Export Association of the Midwest utilized MAP funding to help a 6th generation, family-owned farming operation and business in North Dakota report its first export sales in Canada, Kuwait, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates. Similarly, the Northwest Hazelnut Company used MAP funding in conjunction with the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association to grow its sales in China by 5% at the same time as the U.S.-China trade relationship was hit with retaliatory tariffs. The U.S. Wheat Associates have used FMD and MAP funding to conduct trade service and technical support in Myanmar where U.S. wheat exports grew from 26,300 MT in 2017/18 to 65,000 MT in 2018/19 and are expected to increase in the future. These examples highlight how MAP and FMD funds assist small businesses and farmers alike.

Keep in mind MAP and FMD are cost-share programs requiring farmers and participating organizations to contribute as much as a 100 percent match. They continue to be excellent examples of very effective public-private partnerships. While government is an important partner in this effort, industry funds are now estimated to represent about 73 percent of total annual spending on market development and promotion, up from roughly 45 percent in 1996 and less than 30 percent in 1991. For every dollar invested, our coalition partners return more than $28 in export gains. And over a decade, these programs are responsible for export growth totaling $309 billion and 240,000 full and part-time jobs.

These programs are fueling our nation’s food and agriculture engines. With modest increases they could do even more. That’s why we’re asking that your subcommittee use discretionary dollars to provide $7 million dollars – – less than 3% of the program investment— for USDA administrative and operational costs. With administrative and operational funding assured, the full investment of MAP and FMD can be realized for the intended purpose of US agricultural export promotion and long-term market development.

We’re grateful for the work of your subcommittee and its continued investment in these proven programs. We look forward to a meeting with you and your staff to discuss this request and to continue our successful collaboration.

Sincerely,

Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports

Date Sent:

March 11, 2020

Sender:

Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports

Recipient:

Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations

Subject:

International Trade

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