Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded fiscal year 2011 funding to approximately 70 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for their goods.

"We are pleased to announce that through the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP), we are able to award approximately $226 million to help dozens of U.S. agricultural organizations and businesses increase export opportunities," said Vilsack.

Under FMD, FAS will allocate a total of $31.7 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. The organizations, which must contribute a minimum 50-percent cost share, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas. Under MAP, FAS will provide $194.4 million to 68 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. MAP participants must contribute a minimum 10-percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

"Through FMD, MAP and other market development programs, USDA is helping farmers, ranchers and the businesses that support them open and expand international markets for U.S. agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "Ultimately, these efforts are helping achieve President Obama's National Export Initiative goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the close of 2014."

Every $1 billion in farm exports supports roughly 8,400 jobs in the United States. And strong trade continues to be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. Exports of U.S. farm goods in fiscal year 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010 – Sept. 30, 2011) are projected to surpass previous records by $20 billion. Moreover, the agricultural trade balance—a balance of U.S. exports versus foreign imports—is also projected to set a record surplus of $47.5 billion in 2011.

For a complete listing of funding allocations, visit www.fas.usda.gov/info/webstories/map_042911.asp and www.fas.usda.gov/info/webstories/fmd_042911.asp.