More than 120 members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports are urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies to maintain funding for USDA export programs when it considers the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill on May 24.

In a May 18 letter to Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who chairs the subcommittee, and Ranking Minority Member Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., coalition members asked that the Market Access Program (MAP) be funded at no less than $200 million for FY 12, as authorized in the 2008 farm bill. The letter also called for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program to be funded at no less than $34.5 million, as provided in the farm bill.

“A majority in Congress has long supported these vital export promotion and market development programs and for good reason,” said Michael Wootton, senior vice president of Sunkist Growers Cooperative and Coalition chairman. “MAP and FMD help farmers and other small businesses succeed in the international marketplace where they are out-spent by foreign competition. The programs also help create jobs and support the National Export Initiative’s commendable goal to double U.S. exports over the next five years.”

MAP and FMD are administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. They are distinct, public-private partnership programs that address different aspects of market development in complex export markets. MAP supports non-profit U.S. agricultural trade associations, farmer cooperatives, non-profit state-regional trade groups, small businesses and USDA. 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 U.S. producers, processors and exporters develop new foreign markets and increase market share in existing markets.

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.

“By any measure, [the programs have] been tremendously successful and extremely cost-effective in helping maintain and expand U.S. agricultural exports, protect and create American jobs, strengthen farm income and help to offset the government-supported advantages afforded foreign competitors,” the Coalition letter stated. “We ... urge [the subcommittee] to strongly oppose any efforts that would either eliminate or reduce funding for them.”

For more information on the MAP and FMD programs and their success, visit http://www.fas.usda.gov/programs.asp.