The current farm bill expires at the end of this month, and lawmakers don’t seem close to passing a new one. There are many questions left open in each of the bill’s twelve titles, but when it comes to Title III-Trade, the question is all about money.
“The big issues in the Farm Bill on trade are the market facilitation and market promotion programs, called MAP and FMD,” said Brian Kuehl, Executive Director of Farmers for Free Trade, in reference to the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program. “Congress lays out about 200 million (dollars) in MAP funding and another chunk in FMD. That’s for promotion of US ag food and ag products overseas. Non-branded products primarily, trying to encourage people to buy US soybeans or corn or wheat.”
He said the ag community’s goal for the 2023 Farm Bill is to double the current amounts.
“So, instead of $200 million a year for market promotion, we’d like to see $400 million. I think there’s some skepticism that Congress will go that far just because the farm bill dollars are always tight,” he said. “But that’s certainly the goal, and there have been bills introduced in both the House and Senate to try to accomplish that, to double that market promotion funding.”
While doubling the funding may be a difficult task, Kuehl thinks there has been movement on the issue.
“I do think we’ve made progress. I talked to members on the Hill about the farm bill and pretty quickly people mentioned MAP and FMD as a priority. So, I don’t think that means we’ll get a doubling but my gut tells me we’ll see those numbers bumped up some,” he said. “And that would be good. I think anytime we can increase promotion of US food and ag products and expand overseas markets, that’s a good thing.”
Although the current farm bill expires on Sept. 30, 2023, most of the programs within it are funded through Dec. 31, 2023.