WASHINGTON, DC – USA Rice joined 150 members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports this week in signing a letter to leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture, asking them to increase funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture Export programs in the upcoming Farm Bill.
“Despite a tremendous growth in export opportunity for farmers and small businesses since the 2002 Farm Bill was enacted, the real, effective federal funding that reaches the agricultural cooperators carrying out market development work has steadily eroded, while our international competitors continue to greatly outspend us,” the letter reads.
The letter was released on the heels of a Senate bill, S.1839, the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act, introduced by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Susan Collins (R-ME), that has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Companion legislation in the House (H.R. 2321) was introduced by Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).
The CREAATE Act seeks to expand funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) to $400 million annually and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program to $69 million annually, with the increases phased in over the timeline of the new Farm Bill.
Export market promotion and development are extremely important to the U.S. rice industry with an average of 50 percent of the crop being exported annually. Top destinations for U.S. rice include Mexico, Japan, and Colombia, and USA Rice uses MAP and FMD funding to undertake significant promotion programs there and elsewhere.
“Increased funding for MAP and FMD programs is critical to increasing exports and developing new markets for U.S. rice,” said USA Rice International Promotion Chairman Terry Harris. “The funding for these programs has remained flat for too long. We applaud the work of our Congressional leaders who recognize the need to increase funding in order to help promote U.S. products on the international market.”
A copy of the letter can be found here