Ag coalition says no action on farm bill in 2012 threatens vital export market opportunities

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2012 - Members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports strongly urged U.S. House of Representatives leadership to take action this year on a new five-year Farm Bill in a letter dated Nov. 2, 2012. They argued a farm bill would avoid an unnecessary funding crisis for America's long-standing and successful public support for agricultural exports.

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“With the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill on Sept. 30, USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service currently has no authority to run market promotion and development programs including the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) for FY 13,” the organizations said in their letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The farm families and small to medium size businesses that foot the bill for 60 percent of export development depend on MAP and FMD to conduct export activities they cannot do by themselves, the letter said. And with a forecast value in FY 12 of $136.5 billion, agricultural exports are a vital part of the U.S. economic engine. However, federal funds for these programs will end early in 2013 for many organizations that have already started cancelling or reducing activities.

“Without these programs, our economy will suffer and America will lose jobs because our competition will know that we are not willing to compete in rapidly growing international markets,” said Coalition Chairman Mike Wootton, senior vice president for corporate relations with Sunkist Growers Inc. “We cannot afford to undermine farm and rural incomes by suddenly abandoning some of the most successful public/private programs in the U.S. government.”

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