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USDA trade programs increase exports over $8 billion annually

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The USDA’s Foreign Market Development Program and Market Access Program added another $309.7 billion in sales revenue between 1977 and 2014 or $8.2 billion per year. This is according to a new study by the research firm Informa Economics along with Texas A&M, Oregon State University and Cornell University.

For every dollar invested in FMD and MAP, agricultural exports increased by $28. The study found the FMD and MAP programs resulted in average annual farm income being $2.1 billion higher, and annual average farm asset value was $1.1 billion higher over 2002-14. The programs increased average annual U.S. economic output by $39.9 billion, GDP by $16.9 billion and labor income by $9.8 billion over the same time period.

These programs created 239,000 new jobs, including 90,000 farm sector jobs. The FMD and MAP programs are public-private partnership in which nonprofit agricultural organizations that participate must provide matching dollars. FMD and MAP are the USDA’s main export development programs which are authorized in the farm bill. These programs are administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, which is required to report to Congress periodically on program effectiveness.

House livestock committee disappointed in GIPSA rules
The leaders of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, Congressmen David Rouzer (R-NC), chairman, and Jim Costa (D-CA), ranking member, are disappointed in the USDA’s decision to move forward on the “flawed” Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rules.

Rouzer says, “Many farmers, ranchers and producers across rural America are facing significant financial challenges. Despite these hardships, the USDA chose to ignore the will of Congress and the input of our agriculture community. These disastrous rules will result in a flood of litigation, a disruption to the established marketing system for cattle, pork and poultry, and millions of dollars in unanticipated costs.”

Costa says, “These proposed rules and interim final rule will negatively impact how cattle, poultry and pork are marketed, and will thus unduly harm America’s livestock producers. During a time that farmers around the country are suffering from depressed commodity prices we — Congress and the USDA — should be doing everything we can to support those who work every day to put the highest quality and healthiest food and fiber on our dinner tables every night.”

Rouzer and Costa are very concerned about the interim final rule regarding injury to competition. According to the Congressmen, this provision relieves plaintiffs from having to prove competitive injury to claim a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act, further burdening the U.S. livestock industry by opening the door to a horde of harassing lawsuits. The rules are currently at the Office of Management and Budget for review.

Guessing game begins on next secretary of agriculture
With only eight days before the election, speculation has started on who will be the next secretary of agriculture. Recent press report indicates there are at least five individuals being considered by the Clinton campaign. They include Karen Ross, Blanche Lincoln, Kathleen Merrigan, John Hickenlooper and Steve Beshear.

Ross is the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Prior to her appointment in 2011 as secretary, she served as chief of staff to current Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Lincoln is former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She was elected in 1998 to the Senate where she served two terms representing Arkansas. Prior to the Senate she served in the House of Representatives and was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. Merrigan served as deputy secretary of agriculture during President Obama’s first term. Previously she served as USDA’s administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service and was a senior staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Currently, she is the executive director of Sustainability at the George Washington University. Hickenlooper is the governor of Colorado and previously was elected in 2003 as mayor of Denver. Beshear is the former governor of Kentucky. He has also served in the Kentucky House of Representatives, Kentucky attorney general and lieutenant governor.

At this time there have not been any press reports on possible nominees by Donald Trump.

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