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USDA AWARDS $196 MILLION TO AG GROUPS TO PROMOTE EXPORTS
Agri-Pulse reports:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded $196.4 million in funding to more than 80 U.S. agricultural and trade organizations to help expand commercial export markets for U.S. products.

Under the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 non-profit organizations and cooperatives. Through MAP, FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities.

Participants contribute an average 171-percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

Among the top MAP funding recipients are Cotton Council International at $15.4 million, U.S. Meat Export Federation at $14.1 million, and American Hardwood Export Council at just under $9 million.

Under the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, FAS will allocate $24.6 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. FAS partners with U.S. agricultural producers and processors, who are represented by non-profit commodity or trade associations called cooperators. The organizations, which on average contribute nearly triple the amount they receive in federal resources, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase the demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas, according to USDA.

Among the top FMD funding recipients are American Soybean Association at $5.2 million, U.S. Wheat Associates at $4.2 million, and Cotton Council International at $3.2 million.

The funding was made available through the 2014 farm bill. USDA will begin accepting applications for 2015 export development program funding on Thursday.

"Now that Congress has passed the farm bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," Vilsack said.

The secretary said that each dollar invested in trade promotions provides $35 in economic benefits. USDA said the past five years represent the strongest period for U.S. agricultural exports in the history of the nation.

Farm exports in fiscal year 2013 reached a record $140.9 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the United States.

FAS Administrator Phil Karsting said the programs have been successful in helping commodities gain access to increasing foreign markets, and he expects that trend to continue as a result. Karsting noted that the almond sector has experienced a 44 percent increase in exports to India over the past several years, and that the Washington Apple Commission has had good outcomes in Peru. He said large commodity groups are not the only beneficiaries of the programs as smaller commodities have begun to make inroads to export markets.

View the complete list of MAP recipients here and FMD recipients here.


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