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Legislative Update: MAP/FMD Debate

Published: Jun 19, 2012
The USDA Market Access Program (MAP), which has been instrumental in supporting U.S. red meat exports to international markets, is being discussed by the Senate this week as it resumes consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240). An amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would reduce funding for MAP by 20 percent and prevent the use of those funds for specific, targeted activities is still expected to be voted upon today or tomorrow.

Also, as we reported yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee markup on the FY 13 Agriculture Appropriations bill was scheduled for today, June 19. At the committee markup this morning, Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) decided not to offer his amendments which would have eliminated funding for the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the MAP.

Amendments still can be made from the floor when the bill is taken up by the full House.

USMEF members are encouraged to contact their elected representatives, especially their senators and members of the House Appropriations Committee, to relay their support of full funding for both MAP and the FMD program and to oppose any amendments that eliminate or cut these two valuable trade promotion programs. Also, send them success stories. It is key that your legislators hear from agriculture and their constituents. Please continue to contact Senate offices urging them to vote NO on the Coburn amendment that would cut the MAP program by $40 million. It will come up for a vote either later today or tomorrow.

The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, whose members include USMEF, has reported to members of Congress that since the creation of MAP in 1985, U.S. agricultural exports have increased more than 400 percent, and today more than 1.1 million Americans have jobs that depend on these exports.

According to USDA, each $1 billion in agricultural exports supports approximately 8,400 U.S. jobs. Agricultural exports in FY 12 are forecast to reach $134.5 billion, which will be second only to the all-time record level of $137.4 billion achieved in FY 11.

Opponents of MAP have stated that the “overall benefit to the economy is unclear,” although a study commissioned by USDA has shown that for every additional $1 expended by government and industry on international market development, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35, a 35 to 1 return on investment. At the same time, the study also found that U.S. domestic farm support payments were reduced by roughly $54 million annually due to higher prices from increased demand abroad, thus reducing the net cost of farm programs.

Members can find a copy of a draft letter to help explain the benefits of MAP and responses developed by the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports to questions raised by Sen. Coburn can be found online.