July 15, 2003
ASI Joins Coalition to Promote Exports
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) the last week of May joined more than 50 other agricultural organizations as part of a ?Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports.?
In a letter sent to Chairman Henry Bonilla and Ranking Minority Member Marcy Kaptur of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, the coalition urged the committee?s ?strong support for maintaining and strengthening funding for USDA?s export programs, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program? as they consider the FY 04 agriculture appropriations bill.
Both farm income and the economic well-being of agriculture are heavily dependent on exports, which accounts for as much as one-third or more of domestic production. In an effort to reverse the decline in funding that occurred over the last decade for these export programs, Congress saw the need to approve an increase for MAP to $125 million and for FMD to $34.5 million during the development of the 2002 Farm Bill.
Statistics compiled by USDA show that the European Union (EU) alone spends between $2 billion and $5 billion annually on agricultural export subsidies compared to less than $100 million spent by the United States. In fact, a further breakdown shows that the EU countries are spending more than $100 million annually to promote their products in just the United States, which is almost as much as the United States spends ($110 million) to promote its products worldwide.
In closing, the coalition stated, ?Such programs have been tremendously successful and extremely cost-effective in helping maintain and expand U.S. agricultural exports, protect American jobs and strengthen farm income. Reducing or eliminating funding for these programs in the face of continued subsidized foreign competition and while we are in the midst of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations would be nothing less than unilateral disarmament.?