Market Development Programs have historically received political support from the Administration and Congress. The Market Access Program is authorized at $200 million while the Foreign Market Development program is funded at $34.5 million in both the Senate and House versions of 2013 Farm Bill. An amendment offered by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) to eliminate MAP funding was defeated by a 322-98 vote, signalling that grass roots efforts were successful. Nonetheless, we can expect continued efforts by opponents to offer similar amendments on Ag. Appropriations and other related legislation.
With the passage of a "Farm-only-Farm bill' in the House of Representatives, the House formally sent the legislation (H.R. 2642) to the Senate. Procedurally, the Senate sent their Farm bill (S. 954) and requested a conference and named conferees. The House is expected to name conferees once it resolves differences on a stand-alone nutrition title, which may not occur before the August recess.
With the exclusion of the food nutrition title and differences in several agriculture-related titles, it is inevitable that the Senate will not accept the House bill in its current form. Full funding and authorization for the MAP and FMD programs are in both bills. However, the House Bill includes language that amends permanent law which would only apply to pending commodity title. With the absence of the other controversial and impractical provisions that have traditionally prodded Congress to avoid reverting to the antiquated 1938 and 1949 acts, several other farm bill titles, including the trade title (which includes MAP and FMD) are not included in these acts and thus would have no legislative basis from which to consider reauthorization following the five-year expiration of a finalized 2013 farm bill.
In addition to resolving differences in the two farm bills and reconciling whether the changes made to permanent law remain in place, Congress will have very little time to complete the process and have legislation in place by September 30, when the current farm bill expires. If that occurs, Congress will have to enact a short-term extension, or perhaps as long as two years if it becomes clear they cannot finalize a new five-year farm bill.
With respect to the FY 14 Appropriation process, the House Ag Appropriations bill is not expected to be considered before the August Congressional recess. The White House has issued a veto threat against the legislation. Consideration of the Senate Ag Appropriations bill may occur before the August break. In all likelihood, a final ag appropriations bill will probably be combined with remaining appropriations bills in a continuing resolution. It is further complicated by the fact that the House and Senate are operating under different budget caps. In addition, the Budget Control Act sequestration cuts remain in effect and would ultimately impact final appropriations bills, including MAP and FMD funding. In addition to the concern for program cuts is the current requirement of cooperators to absorb the Foreign Agricultural Service costs of administering the MAP/FMD programs.
While efforts to protect funding have been successful to date, it remains vulnerable to potential cuts either as part of the annual appropriations process or during the reauthorization of the 2013 Farm Bill.
Delay in finalizing the farm bill and future impacts of sequestration could result in either funding reductions and/or further administrative changes to the programs will likely force repositioning of USGC market development program activities and resources. Depending on the level of cuts, it could require consolidation of country and regional offices and reprioritization of program activities. It could put additional pressure to obtain additional private sector support to offset the loss of market development funding.
Strategy/Level of Engagement:
USGC is addressing the issue from a number of vantage points: messaging support for members to communicate to Congress; use of Success Stories and Accomplishments with members and media; reinforce the importance of trade to U.S. economy/jobs; and secure Administration support for Market Development and National Export Initiative goals.