With funds cut by a combined $10 million by the effects of sequestration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the distribution of more than $170 million in Market Access Program funds and $25 million in Foreign Market Development funds for fiscal year 2013.
The agency said in a news release that the sequestration cutbacks — across the board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act — could have been more severe if not for cost-cutting measures at the agency.
In March, USDA officials projected that export promotion allocations could be sliced as much as 10% because of the mandated budget cuts. That would have meant $20 million in cutbacks for the $200 million per year Market Access Program and $3 million to the $30 million per year Foreign Market Development Program.
For the Market Access Program, The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service allocated $172.7 million to 70 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives for fiscal year 2013, according to the release. However, it is also common for the agency to hold money in reserve, so the announced allocations don’t necessarily reflect all the distributions planned for the year.
Participants in the program contribute an average 171% match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives, according to the release.
Fresh produce organizations receiving substantial funding include:
- Washington Apple Commission ($4.5 million);
- California Table Grape Commission ($2.8 million);
- Florida Department of Citrus ($4.3 million);
- National Potato Promotion Board ($4.7 million);
- Pear Bureau Northwest ($3.5 million); and
- Washington State Fruit Commission ($1.4 million)
Keith Hu, director of international operations for the Washington State Fruit Commission, said percentage reductions in MAP allocations were not the same for each organization. The uncertain future of the farm bill and Congressional budget talks make it hard to predict what allocations will be for fiscal year 2014, Hu said.
Under the Foreign Market Development Program, the USDA FAS will allocate $25.4 million to 26 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. Nearly all of the FMD allocations went to grain, dairy, cotton and livestock organizations.
The USDA said the program helps build U.S. exports. In the news release, the USDA cited an independent study in 2010 showing that for every $1 expended by government and industry on market development, U.S. food and agricultural exports increase by $35.