More than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations focusing on expanding exports — including the U.S. Meat Export Federation — were awarded funds yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service. The funding, made available through the 2014 Farm Bill, was announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"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. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."
A total of 62 organizations and cooperatives have been designated to receive a collective $171.9 million in Market Access Program funds to focus on consumer promotion, including brand promotion. The funds are used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products and bulk and intermediate commodities. USMEF is the second-largest recipient of 2014 MAP funds at $14.07 million.
FAS also allocated $24.6 million through the 2014 Foreign Market Development Program to 22 trade organizations that focus on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. USMEF received an additional $1.1 million in funding through the FMD Program.
Recipients of USDA funding are evaluated on four criteria: the experience of the cooperator, past performance record, ability to perform and industry contributions that the cooperator generates.
USMEF matches these USDA dollars with funds from the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries, as well as support from the U.S. corn and soybean industries to maintain and expand markets for U.S. red meat products. In addition, USMEF solicits investments from international partners in the markets where it operates to support direct market promotion. Over the past three years, on average, these third-party contributions have added 104 percent in additional resources to USMEF's total budget.
The past five years represent the strongest period for U.S. agricultural exports in the history of the United States. Farm exports in fiscal year 2013 reached a record $140.9 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the United States. U.S. red meat exports in 2013 set a new value record, topping $12.2 billion.