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Senate Passes Farm Bill; House Is Next

Published: Jun 11, 2013
The Senate yesterday approved a new five-year farm bill by a vote of 66 to 27. The Senate version authorizes funding of $200 million annually for the USDA’s Market Access Program and $34.5 million annually for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program through 2018. An amendment sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would have reduced funding for MAP to $160 million annually and prohibited use of funds for certain activities ultimately was not offered by Senator Coburn.

The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the House Agriculture Committee version of the farm bill, but it is expected to be considered by the full House the week of June 17.

Last year, the Senate passed a farm bill by a wide margin in June followed by approval of legislation in the House Agriculture Committee a month later. But the bill was never called for a vote in the House. As a result, Congress failed to pass a bill and instead voted to extend the 2008 farm law until Sept. 30 of this year.

The House Appropriations Committee has scheduled markup this Thursday on the FY 14 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The legislation was approved by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee last week and includes full funding of $200 million for MAP and $34.5 million for FMD, subject to enactment of a new Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to consider its version of the legislation later this month.

The MAP and FMD programs bolster efforts to support and expand U.S. agricultural exports. A recent study conducted by Agralytica Consulting on behalf of several U.S. agri-food export market development organizations shows that American competitors in the international agricultural market are spending aggressively to expand their agricultural exports.

The report shows that in 2011, the United States spent $256 million in public funds to promote agricultural exports. In contrast, the EU 27 central government allocated $360 million of public funds in 2011 for export promotion. Additional spending by the governments of France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands boosted the EU total to $460 million. Reports out of the EU indicate that it intends to significantly increase spending to promote agricultural exports through the end of this decade.