Members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports wrote congressional representatives last week urging strong support for USDA’s export initiatives, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies considers the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

The letter said: “We strongly urge that MAP be funded at no less than $200 million for FY 2012, as authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. MAP has been funded annually at this level since FY ’06. In addition, we believe that FMD should be funded at no less than $34.5 million, also as provided in the Farm Bill.”

MAP is administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and represents a partnership between non-profit U.S. agricultural trade associations, farmer cooperatives, non-profit state-regional trade groups, small businesses and USDA. The diverse groups share the costs of international marketing and promotional activities such as consumer promotions, market research, trade shows and trade servicing.

The FMD program assists producers, processors and exporters in developing new foreign markets and increasing market share in existing markets.

MAP and FMD offer distinctly different programs to address different aspects of market development and promotion and reflect successful public-private partnerships, the coalition said.

MAP was created in 1985, and since that time, it has helped to boost U.S. agricultural exports by nearly 300%, and create more than 1 million American jobs that depend on these exports. USDA says each $1 billion in agricultural exports supports about 8,400 U.S. jobs.

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

MAP is a cost-share arrangement whereby farmers and other participants contribute up to a 100% match of their own resources to be eligible.

Signees to the letter included the American Meat Institute, the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.