U.S. farmers consistently produce enough wheat to meet domestic demand and still have about half of their crop available to overseas customers year. They support U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) with a portion of 17 state checkoff programs to build and maintain overseas demand. In turn that support qualifies USW to apply for program funding appropriated by the U.S. Congress and administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
This public-private partnership started in the 1950s and has earned a legacy of success giving wheat farmers the ability to maintain bases of operation and local USW representatives to conduct trade service and technical support activities with buyers, flour millers and wheat food processors.
The partnership was renewed in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which established the Agricultural Trade and Facilitation Program and provides funding for the Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and other programs available to USW and many other organizations representing U.S. farmers, ranchers and dairy producers. President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law on Dec. 21, 2018.
Without the federal programs renewed in the current Farm Bill, USW would not be able to fulfill its mission to mission to develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.
USW thanked Congress for renewing the long-term investment in export market development programs.
“We also thanked the National Association of Wheat Growers for working to present our positions on export development funding and we are very pleased that members of Congress and their staff addressed those concerns effectively in this Farm Bill,” said USW Chairman Chris Kolstad, a wheat farmer from Ledger, Mont.
An additional change in the legislation now allows Congress to appropriate discretionary funds to cover the cost of administering the export market development programs, rather than covering costs from the appropriated program budgets. The law also establishes a Priority Trust Fund to be used at USDA’s discretion to help meet requests that exceed the appropriated program funds. Another important change now allows qualified organizations like USW to use program funds to conduct market development activities in Cuba.