US Wheat dismayed by budget proposal to eliminate trade development programs

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US wheat producers organisation US Wheat Associates is very disappointed that the Administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget eliminates funding for the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and severely cuts 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.

“These are the wrong proposals at the wrong time for the wheat farmers we represent,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “Agriculture is truly a global industry and export demand determines the prices US wheat farmers receive. Without funding from MAP and FMD, we would not be able to continue the training, technical assistance and service that is needed to promote this incredibly complex food crop. Our competitors would swoop in to take those markets and the potential effect on wheat prices is obvious.”

In addition, a major econometric study led by Texas A&M agricultural economists in 2016 on the effectiveness of MAP and FMD showed that eliminating these programs would result in an annual average loss of $14.7 billion in export value, which would hurt almost every farmer in the country.

“It is very short-sighted to cut out programs that are vital to the health of the entire U.S. agricultural economy,” said Jason Scott, USW Chairman and a wheat farmer from Easton, Md. “Farmers, livestock producers, small businesses and the U.S. government have seen an amazing return on the investment in these highly successful programs. 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 of all 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.”

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