Farm Bill Status Remains Unclear as Year Draws to Close

As 2012 draws to a close, Congress remains stymied on the Farm Bill, which provides essential funding for much of American agriculture, including the red meat exports supported by USMEF.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is quoted today in Farm Futures saying that he and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will “deal with the issue” before the end of the year, but did not specify whether that means a new, fully funded five-year Farm Bill or an extension of the existing bill into 2013 while the debate continues.

USMEF receives a significant portion of its revenue from two programs funded through the Farm Bill: the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.

“The benefits that USMEF delivers with MAP and FMD funding – together with support from the beef, pork, corn and soybean checkoff programs – are well-documented, but there is no guarantee of future funding as Congress weighs options for cutting spending,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

While the volume of U.S. red meat exports is down after a year of drought and lower production, the value of both beef and pork exports remain ahead of 2011’s record-setting pace where the United States exported product valued at $11.5 billion.

This year, the U.S. is exporting 27 percent of all pork production (muscle cuts plus variety meat), with an export value of $56.16 for every animal processed. On the beef side, exports account for 12.7 percent of total production with a per-head export value of $213.63.

“Total American agricultural exports are projected at $131 billion in FY 12, and are one of the bright spots in our economy,” said Seng. “They support more than 1.1 million American jobs, which are essential for the American economy to continue to rebound.”

Seng also noted that independent research conducted on the MAP program by USDA shows that the program returns $35 in value for every $1 spent.

“While we understand the challenge that Congress faces in reducing spending, it is critical to the future of American agriculture and our entire economy that we continue to invest in programs like MAP and FMD that help boost American exports and create jobs,” said Seng. “We encourage USMEF members to contact their legislators, as well as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), to express their urgent support for approval this year of a new, fully funded five-year Farm Bill.”

Talking points regarding the Farm Bill are online.