USW strong opposes budget proposal eliminating market development funding

From USW’s 6/1 Wheat Letter

Last week, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) expressed dismay that the Trump Administration’s proposed FY2018 budget calls for eliminating funding for the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and would severely cut funding for food aid programs. These cuts and other proposed cuts to the farm safety net would be devastating to wheat farmers who are already facing severely challenging economic conditions and undermine their relationship with overseas customers.

“These are the wrong proposals at the wrong time,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “Without funding from MAP and FMD, we would not be able to continue the training, technical assistance and service that is needed to help overseas buyers get the value they need from this incredibly complex food crop. Without this service, overseas customers would buy far less U.S. wheat and the potential effect on farmgate prices is obvious.”

“It is very short-sighted to cut out programs that are vital to the health of the entire U.S. agricultural economy and create such value for our customers,” said Jason Scott, USW chairman and a wheat farmer from Easton, M.D. “Our farmer leaders agree with the National Association of Wheat Growers President David Schemm who believes MAP and FMD merit an increase in federal funding, not elimination as proposed in this budget.”

In addition, time-honored U.S. food aid programs have been engines of peace, food security and local capacity building in countless countries around the world. Wheat makes up 40 percent of all U.S. in-kind food aid, and because almost all food aid recipients are wheat-import dependent, particularly in Africa, wheat donations do not distort local markets. It is not a good time to diminish our ability to promote better lives around the world.