WASHINGTON – More than 120 members of the Coalition to Promote US Agricultural Exports, including the American Meat Institute, urged Congress to maintain funding for US Department of Agriculture export programs when it considers the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill on May 24.

Coalition members asked in a May 18 letter to Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who chairs the subcommittee, and Ranking Minority Member Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), that the Market Access Program (MAP) be funded at no less than $200 million for FY 2012, as authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. Their letter also called for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program to be funded at no less than $34.5 million, as provided in the Farm Bill.

“We are strongly supportive of the administration’s commendable goal through the National Export Initiative (NEI) of doubling U.S. exports over five years. For agriculture, MAP and FMD are key tools in making this a successful effort,” the letter stated.

For every additional $1 expended by government and industry on cost-share export market development programs between 2002 and 2009, US food and agricultural exports increased by $35, states a recent study by IHS Global Insight. The study also found that US domestic farm support payments were reduced by roughly $54 million annually due to higher prices from increased demand abroad, thus reducing the net cost of farm programs.

“US agriculture has to compete in the international marketplace, and is even more important today as our competitors continue to use their considerable financial resources to gain market share,” the letter concluded.