Washington, D.C.—Farmer co-ops and their member-owners depend on market development programs like the Market Access Program (MAP) to help level the playing field when competing against foreign growers who are heavily subsidized by their governments, said Mike Wootton, senior vice president of NCFC member Sunkist today.
Wootton, testifying on behalf of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), was a witness at a House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture hearing earlier today.
“The European Union and our other foreign competitors have made clear that they will continue to aggressively expand their export promotion efforts,” Wootton said. “For this reason, the Coalition believes the Administration and Congress should strengthen funding for MAP and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) as part of a strong trade component in the next farm bill.”
He also noted the important role that farmer cooperatives play in helping their members access these markets.
“Farmer cooperatives across the country offer their farmer and grower owners an opportunity to market their products and compete in a global marketplace,” he testified. “Co-ops, through collective resources, enable individual farmers who do not have the resources or production volume individually to access and successfully compete in foreign markets with their U.S.-grown products.”
Wootton went on to note that, according to their most recent World Trade Organization (WTO) notification, the European Union spends over $1.4 billion annually in export promotion activities; more than four times the amount that the United States spends in a year on similar programs. Brazil, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also are spending heavily on market development.
“The farm revenues and economic well being of our agricultural sector depend heavily on exports, which account for over 25 percent of U.S. farm cash receipts, provide jobs for over one million Americans, and make a positive contribution to our nation’s overall trade balance,” Wootton said. “The support provided by MAP is essential to our export health, and the Administration and Congress should ensure the strength of MAP as part of a robust trade component in the new Farm Bill.”
For more information on the MAP and FMD programs and their success, visit http://www.fas.usda.gov/programs.asp.