The U.S. Congress is at the beginning of a long process to gain enactment of a new Farm Bill due by the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2018. As a member of the Agribusiness Coalition for Foreign Market Development and the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) provides information to the coalitions and to the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) needed to present priorities to U.S. legislators.
Last week, two events happened that potentially affect the work USW does to help its overseas customers gain value from purchasing U.S. milling wheat.
First was a letter sent from Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington State and 43 co-signing members of Congress voicing strong support for USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) as the process of writing a new farm bill begins in earnest.
The bipartisan request to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway of Texas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota urged reauthorization of both programs and incorporation of elements from H.R. 2321, the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agriculture Trade and Exports Act (CREAATE Act), which would phase in increases in annual funding for both programs.
The letter referenced the dramatically increased competition U.S. agricultural exports now face, supported by increasingly rich government-sponsored marketing from some of the top U.S. agricultural competitors.
The letter also explained that MAP and FMD dollars are matched by private-sector contributions from state and national checkoffs and small agriculture businesses. In 2014, those contributions made up 70 percent of all money invested by organizations participating in the programs and operating marketing efforts overseas. In today’s complex trade environment, promoting U.S. wheat and other agricultural products has never been more important. This is most successfully accomplished with robust global presence, which is supported through MAP and FMD.
Also last week, the first House version of the 2018 Farm Bill proposes a slightly different structure for export market development programs. It consolidates the programs into the “International Market Development Program” that includes Foreign Market Development, Market Access Program, Emerging Markets Program and Trade Assistance for Specialty Crops components. This consolidated program would maintain a budget baseline for the FMD component and provides continued funding for FMD and the MAP component at their current annual levels. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee passed this version of the Farm Bill, which will be debated by the full House.
More about the MAP and FMD component programs and the public-private partnership they represent is at www.agexportscount.org.