USDA’s international market development programs, especially the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program and the Market Access Program, have been successful and are critical for U.S. agriculture. This was the message delivered by agricultural groups at the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hearing examining these programs.
Gary Williams of Texas A&M reports on a recent study on FMD and MAP that reviewed three areas: are these programs increasing the foreign demand for U.S. agricultural products; has any increase achieved in exports been sufficient to contribute more to the profitability of U.S. agriculture compared to the cost of the programs; and have these programs contributed to the growth of the U.S. economy? The study found these programs to be successful and beneficial in all three areas. The study concluded:
• Boosting U.S. agricultural exports and export revenues — From 1977-2014, FMD and MAP have added an annual average of 15.3% ($8.15 billion) to the value of U.S. agricultural exports, 8.0% (11.5 million metric tons) to the volume, and 6.7% to the aggregate price of U.S. agricultural exports.
• Benefit-to-cost — FMD and MAP have generated a net return of $28.20 in additional export revenue for every dollar invested in export promotion.
• U.S. economy — These programs contributed to the profitability of the U.S. economy: USDA’s export promotion programs boosted annual average farm cash receipts by up to $8.7 billion, net farm income by $2.1 billion, and agri-food sector jobs by 93,900. U.S. economy Gross Domestic Product grew by $16.9 billion and these programs have added up to 239,800 full and part-time jobs across the entire economy.
U.S. Meat Export Federation President Phil Seng says, USDA’s FMD and MAP programs help “develop new markets, displace our formidable, worldwide competition, and defend American meat products’ market share from aggressive competitors.” Seng says these programs signal the commitment of the U.S. red meat industry to being a consistent and reliable supplier of high-quality, safe and affordable foodstuffs. The American Soybean Association says the FMD and MAP programs are among the “few tools that help American agriculture and American farmers remain competitive in the global marketplace.”
Trump revises executive order on immigration
President Trump signed a revised executive order that bans people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The new order does not include Iraq which was on the earlier list.
The executive order suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days to allow the federal government time to develop “extreme vetting” procedures in an effort to prevent terrorists from entering the United States The order limits the number of refugees to 50,000 per year compared to 110,000 under the Obama administration.
Citizens from the banned countries with legal permanent residence in the United States and those with issued visas are not affected.
Consumers for healthy food and sustainable farm bill
The Environmental Working Group and Food Policy Action Education Fund have launched the “Plate of the Union” campaign to change farm policy to “make food safer, make healthy food more accessible and make food production better for the our environment.”
The campaign will focus on four areas: stop taxpayer subsidies going to “Big Ag polluters” — which perpetuate farm pollution and contribute to the overuse of antibiotics in livestock; protect and improve anti-hunger programs; increase federal investments in organic agriculture; and expand programs to reduce food waste.