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Farm Bill/MAP/FMD Status

Published: Oct 12, 2012
The Farm Bill, which provides the legal authority for the Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), expired Sept. 30, and Congress is on recess until after the Nov. 6 election.

USMEF remains hopeful that Congress will extend the current Farm Bill, or adopt new legislation to replace it, when Congress reconvenes for the lame duck session following the election. Until a new Farm Bill is in place, however, not having the authority to commit MAP and FMD funds is creating challenges for USMEF – and other organizations that rely on these funds – in the day-to-day delivery of our programs. This in turn is having a direct impact on USMEF’s ability to effectively further the interests of the beef, pork and lamb industries in the export markets.

Over the past week, USMEF has communicated directly with other agriculture organizations that have a presence in Washington, D.C., to provide them with background information and encourage them to contact key legislators and reinforce the necessity of swift action on the Farm Bill.

USMEF staff also is working with an agriculture coalition of fellow USDA cooperators – MAP and FMD funding recipients – to review strategies for outreach to key legislators and opinion leaders.

Later this month, USMEF leadership will be in Washington, D.C., for meetings to discuss both the implications of a delayed Farm Bill vote as well as the importance of full funding for MAP and FMD.

Uncertainty surrounding the Farm Bill is affecting the MAP and FMD programs in a number of ways, including:

  • FAS, the USDA agency that administers both programs and is our governmental partner in supporting and enhancing U.S. red meat exports, is facing severe budget pressure and operational limitations. Already, FAS has stopped all non-essential domestic and international travel, and the agency inevitably will face the need to make staff reductions if its funding authority is not renewed by Congress later this year.
  • USMEF has ongoing contractual commitments to staff and vendors in the international markets that must be honored in order to maintain a continued and active presence in these markets. As the authority to commit FMD and MAP funds lapses, USMEF’s ability to meet those commitments and maintain programs that are on par with the United States’ international competitors will be compromised.

Of course the impact of a delayed Farm Bill has implications far beyond the red meat industry. USMEF has learned that other MAP/FMD funding recipients already are postponing or cancelling international outreach efforts. For some of these industries, like the American corn and soybean sectors, the impact is a double blow as both direct grain and oilseed exports will be affected as well as their value-added exports through red meat. In 2011, an estimated 450 million bushels of corn and 85 million bushels of soybeans were exported through U.S. beef, pork and lamb.

USMEF is encouraging its members, who represent the breadth of the U.S. red meat industry, to utilize their network of contacts in Washington to urge lawmakers to adopt a Farm Bill with full funding for the MAP and FMD programs when they return to Washington after the election.

An online sheet of message points addresses the importance of the Farm Bill to U.S. agriculture for supporting exports and job creation in the United States. USMEF will provide updates on the Farm Bill and MAP/FMD funding as they become available.