Background Banner

MAP/FMD Legislative Update – A Message from Philip Seng

Published: Jun 21, 2012
Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted 69 to 30 to reject an amendment by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have reduced funding for the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) by 20 percent to $160 million and prohibited certain kinds of marketing and promotion activities. Thank you to the members of USMEF – who represent the breadth of the U.S. agriculture industry – for your outreach to your elected representatives to encourage them to preserve full funding for the MAP program.

While yesterday’s vote is a positive development, it is by no means the end of the process of securing future funding for the MAP and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs. The debate about the future of USDA’s two principal export market development programs will continue on two separate tracks – drafting a new Farm Bill and setting USDA’s fiscal year 2013 budget - until, and possibly past, the targeted October 1 deadline, which marks the start of the U.S. government’s new fiscal year.

Since this can be a confusing process, let me offer a brief roadmap of the remaining steps on each of the two tracks. The process of drafting a new Farm Bill, which will set budget priorities and create the legislative authority to spend tax revenue on programs over the next five fiscal years, started in the Senate. The Senate version of the bill is expected to pass today. Consideration of the new Farm Bill will next move to the House where it will be debated in July. Once a House version of the bill has been adopted, the Senate and House versions – which likely will be different – will be reconciled by a joint (House and Senate) conference committee. Since the current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of this fiscal year (September 30), Congress needs to complete its work in time for the new bill to take effect on October 1.

In addition to its work on the Farm Bill, Congress must annually approve appropriations to fund specific agricultural programs. Thus, a program that is approved through the Farm Bill must still receive Congressional budget authorization every year. That process starts with the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and moves from there to the full committee and ultimately to the floor of the House. Once the House has adopted its agricultural appropriations bill for FY2013, consideration of funding for USDA programs will then move to the Senate.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to continue working on the FY 13 agriculture appropriations bill for several more weeks. While Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) did not introduce amendments to the committee that would eliminate funding for the MAP and FMD programs as some were expecting, there will be another opportunity to introduce amendments from the floor when the bill is taken up by the full House, likely after July 4.

As the Farm Bill and 2013 appropriations processes work their way through the legislative process, it will continue to be extremely important for members of both houses of Congress to be reminded of the job-creation benefits provided through the MAP and FMD programs, in addition to the return on investment that these programs provide in a highly competitive global marketplace. We greatly appreciate your continued outreach to your Congressional representatives, and we would be happy to answer any questions you have about the process or the benefits to red meat exports of these two vitally important programs.