Some 66 commodity groups and trade organizations will be dividing nearly $174 million to promote their products overseas under Market Access Program (MAP) allocations announced by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service for the 2018 fiscal year.
The most sizable allocation ($14.6 million) goes to the Cotton Council International, the National Cotton Council’s export promotions arm, closely followed by the $13.2 million earmarked for the U.S. Meat Export Federation. On the other end of the scale, the California Olive Committee is getting $100,000, and the Mohair Council of America, $139,525.
The Organic Trade Association, which is receiving almost $755,000 in new funds and about $92,000 in funds left unspent by some organizations in the previous fiscal year, said the money will be well used.
“There are huge opportunities – and challenges – for the U.S. organic sector throughout the world, and we’re helping the industry to take advantage of those opportunities in untapped markets and to meet the challenges created by the growing global appetite for organic,” OTA CEO Laura Batcha said in a release.
In FY 2017, for example, OTA said was able to expand its export promotion activities to five first-time markets: Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Finland and Hong Kong. At the Anuga trade show in Cologne, Germany, the largest food and beverage trade show in the world, OTA hosted an Organic Pavilion showcasing products from eight American organic companies – all first-time exhibitors. The participating companies estimated that they generated over $7 million in new sales at the show, OTA said.
“We thank the USDA for appreciating the importance of our export promotion activities and supporting our work,” Batcha said.
The Market Access Program is currently funded at $200 million a year, a level that hasn’t changed in a decade. A similar initiative – the Foreign Market Development Program, funded at $34.5 million annually – is in the same boat. Commodity groups including the American Soybean Association (which is being awarded about $5.4 million in MAP funds this year) have asked Congress to double those amounts in the next farm bill.
“Funding for these export promotion programs hasn’t been increased for over 10 years,” John Gordley, the director of ASA’s Washington office, said in a recent Agri-Pulse opinion piece. “In the absence of TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership) or negotiation of new trade agreements, they will be even more important in opening new markets and growing existing ones.”