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A bipartisan Senate bill would double funding over five years for two Department of Agriculture export promotion programs.
Farmers and ranchers are facing historically low commodity prices, and the bill introduced Sept. 20 would help get their products to foreign shores by strengthening the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), lawmakers said in a press release.
The Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act was introduced by Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Donnelly said export programs have a proven record in helping American farm products reach foreign markets. The new bill would “expand international market access for our farmers, increase opportunities for them to sell their products to customers across the globe, and strengthen our state’s agricultural economy,” he said in the press release.
MAP allows a number of agriculture exporters to apply for either generic or brand-specific promotion funds to support exporting efforts. The program helps them share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products.
FMD is more of a long-term program that expands and maintains export markets for U.S. agricultural products. The focus of FMD is on generic promotion of U.S. commodities, rather than consumer promotion of branded products. According to the USDA, the program-funded projects generally address long-term opportunities to reduce foreign import constraints.
Joe Steinkamp, director of the American Soybean Association, has seen the MAP and FMD spur trade activity that supports 240,000 full-time jobs for soybean farmers and returns nearly $30 for every dollar invested, he said in a press release.
“Doubling funding for the important work they support will only further the mission of creating and expanding export markets for U.S. soybeans in a time when farmers need robust and reliable markets for the crops they produce,” he said.
Members of the Agricultural Export Coalition and Agribusiness Coalition for Foreign Market Development back the legislation, they said in a press release.
The coalitions said both programs have faced stagnant funding and eroding real-dollar impact due to “inflation, sequestration, administrative costs and increased global competition.”
Statutory funding for MAP is now authorized at $200 million per year and $34.5 million per year for FMD, said the coalitions’ press release. The CREAATE Act would phase in additional funding, bringing the MAP figure in fiscal 2023 to $400 million and the FMD amount for that year to $69 million.
“For decades, USDA export promotion programs have helped American farmers create, expand and maintain access to foreign markets, cultivating hundreds of billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of American jobs,” the coalitions said.
The Senate bill follows the House version, H.R. 2321, introduced with bipartisan support on May 3 by Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).
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