WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Ernst (R-Iowa), King (I-Maine), Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Collins (R-Maine) introduced bipartisan legislation that would increase funding to successful U.S. Department of Agriculture export promotion programs and help U.S. farmers maintain an edge in the increasingly competitive global marketplace. The bill, the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act, aims to revitalize the USDA’s export promotion programs, which generated a net return of $28.30 for every dollar invested between 1977 and 2014. The CREAATE Act would aid two of the USDA’s most successful programs, the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP), by doubling their funding over five years.

"As American farmers and ranchers are struggling with historically low commodity prices, maintaining and strengthening U.S. trade relationships around the world is critical to the survival and profitability of the agricultural community,” said Senator Ernst, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “The Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program have proven to be effective in expanding foreign markets for American agricultural goods. With one in every five jobs in Iowa being dependent on trade, it’s important that we ensure these programs have the ability to continue supporting our agricultural economy in Iowa, as well as across the United States. I am glad to join my colleagues in supporting the bipartisan CREAATE Act.” 

“Export promotion programs like MAP and FDMP have a proven track record of helping American farm products reach foreign markets, opening up new opportunities and adding billions of dollars to our nation’s agricultural industry. However, recent funding levels for these programs do not reflect their importance to American exports.” said Senator King. “Passage of this bipartisan legislation would mean growth for our agricultural industry and more good jobs across the economy. Additionally, it would ensure Maine’s famous lobsters, blueberries and everything in between can be enjoyed around the globe.”

“Hoosier farmers are among the best in the world and a pillar of Indiana’s economy,” said Senator Donnelly. “That’s why I am proud to work with my colleagues and friends, Senators Angus King, Joni Ernst and Susan Collins, on bipartisan legislation that would help expand international market access for our farmers, increase opportunities for them to sell their products to customers across the globe, and strengthen our state’s agricultural economy.”

“American farmers, ranchers, and fishermen in Maine and across our country rely on programs like MAP and FDMP extensively to help them expand their customer base and market their products abroad.  This bipartisan legislation would help strengthen our nation’s agricultural industry and help create jobs.” said Senator Collins.  “Maine-made food is renowned for its quality and taste, and this increased investment would enable more consumers to access our state’s homegrown products.”

MAP was established in 1985, and allows agricultural trade associations, farmer cooperatives, non-profit trade groups, and small businesses to apply for either generic or brand-specific promotion funds to support exporting efforts. Generic commodity funds are issues with a 10-percent minimum matching fund, while brand-specific funds require a funding match of at least 50%.

FMDP was first developed in 1955, and is largely used for the promotion of bulk commodities, helping agricultural trade associations establish permanent presences in important markets. It also includes a matching fund requirement.

USDA export programs like MAP and FDMP have added an annual average of $8.15 billion to the value of American agricultural exports, and added up to 239,800 full and part-time jobs, including 90,000 farm sector jobs. Despite these successes, MAP and FDMP funding has not increased since the 2002 Farm Bill, even as competitors increase their efforts; for example, the European Union’s spending for the promotion of wine exceeded the total budget of MAP and FMDP in 2017. The CREAATE Act would curb this trend by providing the agricultural community with the level of support they need.