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At the Annual Conference of American Pistachio Growers which represents most pistachio growers in California that do not belong to Wonderful Pistachios I had the chance to talk to Mark Slupek, deputy administrator for the office of trade programs at the U.S.D.A.  Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).  Slupek talked about the so-called Market Access Program (MAP). Through the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses can share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities – among them: Consumer advertising, public relations, point-of-sale demonstrations, participation in trade fairs and exhibits, market research and technical assistance. When MAP funds are used for generic marketing and promotion, participants must contribute a minimum 10-percent match. For promotion of branded products, a dollar-for-dollar match is required. MAP funding amounted to 200m US$ in 2017.

MAP funding is part of the Farm Bill. Authorization for the current Farm Bill will expire on October 1 2018, thus both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are expected to jump into farm bill hearings early next year with an eye toward having legislation drafted by spring 2018. This is especially the case given the pressure lawmakers face due to poor economic performance for commodity crops in recent years.

Various Freedom Caucus members of the House Republican Caucus have signaled that they will go after farm bill spending for agriculture. While agriculture and rural communities were big backers of Trump that might not influence tightening budgets that we are likely to see. The big tax cuts being discussed will need to be paid for and cuts in domestic spending are the most likely targets given Trump’s promises to raise spending on defense and veterans.

Read the full article in the upcoming print edition.

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If you want to learn more about the Market Access Program please visit:

https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/foreign-market-development-program-fmd


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