Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced that USDA provided more than $234 million to help market American farm products overseas in the 2007 fiscal year that ended Sept 30.

"Promoting the product of the American farmer keeps the pathway open from the farm gate to the world markets," said Conner. "Satisfied customers around the world readily choose U.S. farm products once they have tasted the quality and experience the reliability of American agriculture."

The allocations were provided under the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), both administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service.

The MAP uses funds from USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities with U.S. agricultural trade organizations, state regional groups and cooperatives.

Activities conducted with MAP funding include market research, consumer promotions for retail products, and seminars to educate overseas customers.

Under the FMD program, USDA establishes a trade promotion partnership with nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organizations. Funding priority is given to organizations that represent an entire industry or are nationwide in membership and scope. Program activities focus on reducing market impediments, improving the processing capabilities of importers, modifying restrictive regulatory codes and standards in foreign markets, and identifying new markets or uses for U.S. products.

After final export numbers are tallied, U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2007 are expected to reach $79 billion, making 2007 the fourth year of back-to-back records. Fiscal year 2008 exports are forecast to reach $83.5 billion.

For more information on exports and FAS' market development programs, contact the Office of Trade Programs at (202) 720-4327, or visit the following web site at http://www.fas.usda.gov/mos/marketdev.asp.