The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today strongly opposed a farm bill amendment offered by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would slash funding for the Market Access Program (MAP), a private-public partnership that helps to open new doors for farmer-owned co-ops, producer groups and small businesses in overseas markets.MAP is administered on a cost-share basis, and is among the few export tools not specifically capped under World Trade Organization rules. The programs help to promote U.S. agricultural exports in countries across the world; small businesses, nonprofit trade organizations, and farmer cooperatives are eligible to receive MAP funds.
The Coburn amendment would reduce funding of the program by $40 million per year from current levels and arbitrarily prohibit funds from being used on a range of activities to promote U.S. products in foreign countries. “MAP provides the American taxpayer with a tremendous return on investment—a recent study found that for every dollar spent on the program, 35 dollars in agricultural exports are generated,” said NCFC President and CEO Chuck Conner. “Not only does this money flow back directly to farmers and ranchers, but it also boosts the wider economy, creating jobs in manufacturing, transportation and other sectors. Far from a program that needs to be targeted for cuts, MAP is a wise investment in the future global competitiveness of American agriculture.”
“Decisions on how best to promote U.S. ag exports in markets as diverse as India, Korea or South Africa should be made by those with the business acumen and experience to know what will appeal to foreign consumers, not politicians in Washington,” continued Conner. “This is where co-ops are so well positioned to help producers benefit the most from programs like MAP. Farmer co-ops pool the resources of hundreds or thousands of individual family farmers and give them the expertise to do things—like knowing how to sell products into diverse overseas markets—that the producers would not be able to do as individuals.”
NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process, and market agricultural commodities and related products; furnish farm supplies; and provide credit and associated financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 250,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.