Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns used his visit to the National Cotton Council's Beltwide Cotton Conferences to announce the allocation of $100 million in market access promotion funds to 67 U.S. trade organizations.
Speaking to reporters following his speech at the Beltwide's opening session in New Orleans, Johanns said the funding would include $13 million in Market Access Program funds for Cotton Council International, the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council.
“I scanned the allocations pretty quickly, but I think this is the largest allocation we will be making,” he said. (The next highest amount was $6.2 million for the U.S. Meat Export Federation for use in promoting exports of U.S. beef followed by $4.77 million for the Florida Department of Citrus.)
“U.S. cotton exports hit a record $4.7 billion last year, and we are anticipating that that number will grow this year probably to about $5 billion,” said Johanns. USDA has been forecasting the cotton merchants would export 17 million bales in 2006-07.
“This program provides the kind of support that helps our farmers and ranchers compete in the marketplace,” he noted. “I believe it's good farm policy, and I'm very pleased to announce these allocations of funding.”
He said USDA economists are expecting U.S. agricultural exports to reach a record high in the coming year. “The fact that we are on track to sell a record $77 billion of U.S. agricultural products to overseas markets this year highlights the importance of the Market Access Program to help U.S. exporters reach new customers around the world.”
The secretary said USDA will not announce its proposals for the 2007 farm bill until next month, but he did list criteria he thought the new law should have, including being written to withstand challenges in the World Trade Organization.
Under the MAP, USDA uses Commodity Credit Corp. funds to enter into agreements with U.S. agricultural trade organizations, state regional groups, and cooperatives to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities.
USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service administers MAP. Program applicants undergo a competitive review process based on weighted criteria, such as the degree to which the applicant contributes resources to the program, historic export performance, projected export goals, and accuracy of past export goals. The MAP recently eliminated multi-year funding in order to improve program efficiency and to align program years with fiscal years.
For more information on the MAP, contact the FAS' Office of Trade Programs staff at (202) 720-4327, or visit the FAS web site at http://www.fas.usda.gov/mos/programs/map.asp