A new video from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) aims to educate policy stakeholders about the vital importance to wheat producers and the U.S. economy of maintaining strong export market development programs.

These programs, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, are administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and cost-share with farmer organizations like U.S. Wheat that work to build overseas demand for U.S. agricultural products.

U.S. Wheat receives nearly $5 million in cash funding and $7 millions in goods and services from 19 state wheat commissions each year, which qualifies the organization for about $12 million in MAP and FMD funds.

With that modest budget, the organization works in 100 countries through 15 overseas offices to provide training and technical assistance to wheat buyers and wheat food processors. This can include introducing wheat buyers to new products in their own markets or bringing them to the U.S. so they can learn about the American export system.

These efforts pay dramatic dividends.

USW says a recent study showed that producer dollars combined with MAP and FMD return $115 to the economy for every $1 spent, and the total economic gain to the U.S. economy from increased market development activity was $1.1 billion/year from 2002 until 2009.

U.S. farmers produce wheat of the highest quality, and about 50% of each year’s crop is sent overseas to countries that prefer U.S.-produced wheat or that cannot grow their own. Since so much wheat is exported each year, growing U.S. wheat exports also has a direct impact on farm gate prices, which in turn reduces farm safety net spending. Yet even in the face of increasing foreign export investment, these vital programs are at risk in the current federal budget debate.

 “Without the Foreign Market Development program and the Market Access Program, USW would not be able to continue our work overseas,” USW Alan Tracy says in the video. “The result is that our competitors, including Canada, Australia and Russia, would be ready to swoop in and take those markets. And once we lose them, they don’t come back very quickly.”

To see the new video, go to http://www.uswheat.org/uswPublic2009.nsf/index?OpenPage