Agricultural exports help drive the U.S. economy. For instance, exports of U.S. corn and corn products generated $74.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to a new analysis by Informa Economics. This is why Congress every year appropriates federal funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program which supports the promotion of corn, corn products as well as value-added U.S. red meat products in international markets. These two Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) programs leverage farmers’ checkoff funds and agribusiness investments to build an active outreach program in more than 50 countries.
The United States is not the world’s leading agricultural exporter by accident. More than 50 years ago, National Corn Growers Association Founder Walter Goeppinger, recognized the importance of trade for U.S. agricultural commodities. Goeppinger helped form the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and worked with the FAS to open markets for U.S. corn and livestock exports. MAP and FMD cooperators, like the USGC and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), employ staff around the world, to build and defend U.S. market share of corn and related co-products and directly foster sales opportunities for U.S. products.
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) each year designates Iowa corn checkoff dollars to match and support international market development programs through the USGC and USMEF. For instance, the USMEF adds $1.57 in USDA and third-party funds to every checkoff dollar invested by ICPB and other commodity checkoff associations.
“Our investments in both organizations go to creating market development programs which holds promise in creating additional demand for meat, corn, soybeans and ethanol,” explained ICPB President Mark Heckman, a corn farmer from Muscatine County and a member of the U.S. Grains Council Trade Policy Action Team. “The focus is on consumer promotion, educating shoppers around the world about the quality food products available to them. It’s why we do what we do.”
The 2014 Farm Bill re-authorized MAP and FMD programs which are run by the FAS at USDA. From there the FAS each year awards funding to more than 60 agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for U.S. products. Corn, distillers grains, beef, and pork (and a host of other ag products) all benefit from these funds. An independent study conducted in 2010 found that for every dollar invested in trade promotion overseas, $35 in economic benefits has resulted - much of which is coming back to rural communities in Iowa in the form of jobs and on farm income.
Continued Congressional support for the Market Access and Foreign Market Development programs is going to be more important than ever before with growing demands on the federal budget. The Agriculture Appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2017 has reached an important phase, which means legislators are making funding decisions regarding the MAP and FMD programs.
The protection of MAP and FMD funding continues to be one of the top priority issues of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). “Continued Congressional support for maintaining the level of funding for Market Access Programs (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs continues to be crucial as they are the muscle of what drives our export programs,” explained Iowa Corn Growers Association Director Bruce Rohwer, a farmer from O’Brien County. “More and more demands are being placed on the program and funding has remained flat for a decade.”
Export markets for ethanol, DDGs, corn and value added meat products will be key to corn grower profitability in the future. The USDA projects that most of the growth in the demand for U.S. corn will occur in the export and domestic feed market in the next ten years.
Please contact your representatives in the House and Senate, especially members of the Appropriations and Agriculture committees, in support of full funding for MAP and FMD.
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is an 8,000-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.