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Letter to Chairman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts, of the United States Department of Agriculture

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed strong support of continued investment in key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) export programs that help Washington state farmers and producers sell their products overseas.

In a letter sent today to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, Cantwell and Murray said these key export programs must be maintained at current levels in the next farm bill. USDA export promotion programs including the Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development Program, the Emerging Markets Program, and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program all help sell American products in foreign markets.

"These USDA export promotion programs have helped Washington state farmers and producers sell more of their products overseas," wrote Cantwell and Murray. "Each of these important export promotion programs fills an important role in expanding markets for American grown and produced commodities. These programs are also important to countering subsidized foreign competition by educating foreign consumers about the advantages of our high-quality agricultural products. We strongly support your inclusion of these important market development tools at current levels in the next farm bill."

Washington state apples face a 50 percent tariff in India, but with Market Access Program-funded market building activities in India over the past nine years, the Washington Apple Commission has successfully increased demand for Washington apples. By promoting the high quality and multiple varieties of Washington apples versus less expensive origin apples, demand has increased from a few thousand cartons to a record 3.3 million cartons during the last season, valued at over $61 million.

The Market Access Program (MAP) has also helped double Washington state apple shipments to Vietnam in the past three years, where an emerging middle class increasingly is shopping at a modern retail market. And MAP has helped the United States keep and grow its hold on the Mexican apple market despite being subject to tariffs related to the cross border trucking dispute that was resolved in April 2011. Mexico takes roughly nine percent of all Washington state apples produced -- worth $170 million to Washington apple growers.
In the Pacific Northwest, export promotion support for cherries has produced a 41:1 return on every dollar spent. In 2011, export promotion support helped generate $257 million in cherry exports amounting to an economic impact of $487 million dollars.

The complete text of the letter sent today follows:
April 19, 2012

Dear Chairman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts:

We write today in support of the continued inclusion of important market development tools in the farm bill you are developing. The Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP), the Emerging Markets Program (EMP), and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program (TSAC) are critical to expanding markets and opening new markets to agricultural products grown in the United States. These programs help to close the trade deficit that exists for specialty crops and expand market opportunities for all crops grown in the United States which is why they need to be maintained at current levels
MAP and FMDP work hand in hand to help our producers sell more of their products overseas. FMDP helps identify and establish new markets by supporting staff in foreign countries and providing important market information producers need to enter a new market. MAP helps expand and maintain existing markets by providing assistance to promote crops and react to challenges rapidly.
Since the Market Access Program was expanded as a result of increases included in previous farm bills, United States agricultural exports have increased by $44.8 billion. This program is used by ranchers, farmers and fishermen to promote their products overseas and is critical to the continued economic recovery of the United States.

The Washington Apple Commission has used MAP funds to conduct market building activities in India to create strong brand awareness among consumers and trade members. As a result demand has increased from a few thousand cartons to a record 3.3 million cartons during the last season, valued at over $61 million.

The Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program combined have increased agricultural exports by 35 dollars for every dollar invested in the program from 2002 to 2009. In the Pacific Northwest, export promotion funding for cherries has produced a 41 to 1 return on every dollar spent which has generated $257 million in cherry exports amounting to an economic impact of $487 million dollars in 2011.
The Emerging Markets Program (EMP) which provides a modest amount of funding to help overcome technical issues in emerging markets is important to producers in Washington and has helped with market research on apples and cherry handling techniques in Southeast Asia.

The Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program (TSAC) provides modest assistance to organizations to address sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agricultural exports.. As you may know, over the past five years, the United States Apple Export Council has exported $6.5 million worth of apples to Mexico, which are directly attributable to the TASC program. Without this support, our growers would not have been able to complete the required inspections and preclearance programs necessary to export apples to Mexico.

These USDA export promotion programs have helped Washington state and American farmers and producers sell more of their products overseas. Each of these important export promotion programs fill an important role in expanding markets for American grown and produced commodities. These programs are also important to countering subsidized foreign competition by educating foreign consumers about the advantages of our high quality agricultural products. We strongly support your inclusion of these important market development tools at current levels in the next farm bill.
Sincerely,

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator
Patty Murray
United States Senator


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