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Congress Continues FY 13 Agriculture Appropriations Discussions

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee today marked up and approved the FY 13 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which includes full funding of $200 million for the Market Access Program (MAP) as well as $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD). Together these programs account for about half of USMEF’s funding.

The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the bill the week of June 18.

These are the same levels of funding included in the version of the legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in late April.

Debate on proceeding to consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill began in the Senate this week. A vote on cloture is expected tomorrow afternoon and, if it is invoked (60 votes needed), the Senate will begin consideration of the legislation.

While these early developments are positive, there is still strong opposition to the programs from some legislators and citizens groups who argue that those kinds of agricultural programs should be cut, regardless of the benefits.

In a letter to members of Congress, the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, whose members include USMEF, noted that 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. 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.

A study commissioned by USDA also showed that for every additional $1 expended by government and industry on international market development during this period, 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.

USMEF members are encouraged to contact their elected representatives, especially members of the House Appropriations Committee, to relay their support of full funding for both MAP and FMD.