When it comes to Title III of the farm bill, lawmakers need to prioritize the strengthening of USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, witnesses told lawmakers at a hearing hosted Thursday by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture, and Horticulture.

“If every dollar you spend, you’re getting $25 back in terms of more exports, I think that’s a pretty good place to spend some money,” said Gregg Doud, former chief agriculture negotiator during the Trump administration and one of three witnesses who called more funding for MAP and FMD their top priority for Title III.

Congress last increased funding for MAP in 2006, and for FMD in 2004.

“These two programs allow trade associations and non-profit entities to apply for funding from USDA, with a private sector match, to build new markets and promote U.S. agriculture around the world,” said John Griffith, chairman of the North American Export Grain Association. “The programs have been enormously successful, adding billions of dollars annually to the value of American agricultural exports and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

While FMD is key in helping keep operations going at overseas offices of U.S. farm groups, MAP funds are often used to bring foreign customers to the U.S., said Doud.

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“They think we do things the way they do, and so spending money to bring these folks over to our country to let them see how we do it is of enormous value in building relationships and opening markets,” Doud said.

Doud, Griffith and Matt Lantz, representing the International Fresh Produce Association and National Potato Council, were testifying to a very agreeable subcommittee when it comes to MAP and FMD.

Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., said an increase in funding is way overdue for the programs.

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to double annual mandatory funding for MAP to $400 million and FMD to $69 million. Both bills, authored by Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., are aimed at bolstering support for the programs as Congress crafts the next farm bill.

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