NAWG urges all wheat growers to contact their Members of Congress to reiterate the importance of the Market Access Program (MAP) after the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus within the Republican delegation, this week added the program to its list of programs to eliminate for budget savings.
As concerns about the federal budget deficit mount, MAP has been a frequent target in recent months with this week’s announcement just the latest example. The Obama Administration’s FY2011 budget proposal reprised a rejected FY2010 proposal to cut the program by 20 percent, or $40 million, from the $200 million authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. In addition, a bill, H.R. 4683, was introduced last month to eliminate the program altogether.
Eliminating MAP would be a devastating blow to U.S. wheat producers who are eligible to use the funds through U.S. Wheat Associates to promote sales of wheat overseas, which accounts for about half of total sales each year.
MAP and a sister program, the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program stand at the core of U.S. market development efforts, with MAP money being used to share the costs of overseas market development and promotional activities with U.S. nonprofit agricultural trade organizations and others, and the FMD funds allowing USDA to partner with nonprofit industry groups to focus on reducing overseas market impediments.
A popular talking point touted by MAP opponents is that it provides funding for well-heeled corporations. In the case of the wheat industry, this could not be further from the truth, with the industry’s MAP allocations applied for annually by U.S. Wheat, a not-for-profit market development organization that works in more than 100 countries using producer check-off dollars and matching funds from the government.
In FY2010, allocations to U.S. Wheat included slightly less than $5.5 million in MAP funding and $3.8 million in FMD funding. Including carryover funds from FY2009, total MAP funds available to U.S. Wheat are $6.72 million and total FMD funds are $5.47 million. A recent economic analysis showed that these funds provide an extremely high return on investment, with overall average gross return to the entire wheat industry from the combined producer and government expenditures by U.S. Wheat at $115 for each dollar spent.
More about how MAP monies are used by the wheat industry is in a fact sheet at http://www.uswheat.org/whatWeDo/tradePolicy/doc/9562447139E9333F852576E400765239?OpenDocument.