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USDA Programs Provide Big Boost To Agricultural Exports, Fueling U.S. Economy

Government funding of Ag export promotion groups like USDEC has contributed billions to the national economy while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

An important source of funding for the U.S. Dairy Export Council, as well as numerous other agricultural commodity groups, has been shown to have a huge multiplier effect when it comes to helping farmers and the nation as a whole. 

A new study shows that two export development programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) -- working in tandem with ag industry groups, contributed $45 billion annually to the national economy from 2002 to 2019. 


This additional export revenue “bolsters the entire U.S. agricultural sector and creates a multiplier effect throughout the U.S. economy,” says Gary Williams, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University, who helped conduct the study.

Export promotion pays off for farmers

The study, conducted by IHS Markit in cooperation with ag economists at Texas A&M University, showed that MAP and FMD increased cash receipts for farmers, livestock producers and dairy operators by $12.2 billion per year. 

USDEC is a beneficiary of these USDA programs, designed to build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities.

A majority of USDEC’s funding comes from another source –- the national dairy checkoff provided by farmers themselves -- but MAP and FMD funds provide a vital complement to those farmer investments. A third source of USDEC revenue is membership dues.

Combined, these funding sources have enabled USDEC to be a catalyst for U.S. dairy exports, helping U.S. dairy suppliers achieve record sales of $7.75 billion in 2021.

"MAP and FMD play a critical role in USDEC cheese and ingredient programming,” said USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden. “Without such public-private partnerships supporting our market development efforts, U.S. dairy exports would not be where they are today. These programs are highly effective in helping us raise the profile of, and building demand for, U.S. dairy around the world.” 

The MAP and FMD programs are authorized by the Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The study also analyzed the potential impact of the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program that USDA established in 2019.

The ATP program provided $300 million to cooperating organizations, to which they contributed $90 million in cash, goods and services. The study’s analysis of future expected returns from those investments between 2019 and 2026 predicts that incremental funding for agricultural export market development will provide an excellent return. 

market investment

The study projected ATP funding should generate:

  • $11.1 billion in additional agricultural export revenue, about $1.4 billion annually.
  • $6.44 billion in farm cash receipts, about $810 million annually.
  • $22.6 billion in sales, about $2.8 billion annually.
  • $11.2 billion added to the U.S. GDP, about $1.4 billion annually.
  • 14,780 jobs in related fields.
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