Cantwell Amendment to Support American Farmers, Direct Funds to Agriculture Export Programs Passes in Senate Farm Bill

Amendment asks USDA to direct funding to trade programs helping farmers maintain international market presence

Washington, D.C. – Today, a bipartisan amendment led by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) that directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allocate an additional $6 million in discretionary funds toward critical agriculture export programs, like the Market Assistance Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP), passed the Senate as part of the chamber’s Farm Bill. These programs have opened doors to new markets and helped American farmers maintain strong trade relationships around the globe, and this additional funding would provide needed relief to farmers seeking to maintain market presence in today’s intensified trade environment.

“Washington farmers grow world-class products that deserve to be enjoyed around the globe,” said Senator Cantwell. “Our growers fight every day to maintain and expand access to foreign markets. By providing more money to programs that have proven results for American agriculture, farmers across the country will be better equipped to reach the world’s growing middle class.”

As American agricultural products face increasing competition and barriers to entry in markets around the world, funding for effective agricultural export programs is an important tool for American agriculture to remain competitive.

The 2018 Farm Bill includes an extra $6 million dollars in a Priority Trade Fund to be used at the discretion of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The senators’ amendment asks the secretary to direct these extra funds to critical trade programs that have more requests for assistance than available funding, supporting American farmers at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

“We applaud the efforts of Senator Cantwell and the cosponsors of this amendment to provide increased federal resources for high-demand trade promotion and technical assistance programs, such as the Market Access Program that plays such an important role in maintaining and expanding foreign markets for Pacific Northwest apple, pear, and cherry growers,” said Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council. “Considering the retaliatory tariffs our cherry and apple growers are currently facing in their top export markets – and with more tariffs promised by important trading partners on the horizon – it is more critical than ever that our growers are able to aggressively promote their top-quality products in foreign markets.”

Thousands of family farms and agricultural enterprises throughout the country rely on USDA export programs like MAP and FMDP to gain access to new markets and maintain trade relationships that, in some instances, took decades to build. As U.S. trade relations with critical partners continue to become less predictable, this amendment is important now more than ever.

“Global markets require us to be increasingly nimble both in our demand development activities and our responses to emerging challenges,” said Vince Peterson, President of U.S. Wheat Associates, on behalf of a coalition of organizations supporting FMDP. “We appreciate the amendment presented by Senator Cantwell, which recognizes these needs and the work our organizations do with USDA to keep our producers competitive globally.”

"We wish to commend Senator Cantwell and the other cosponsors for their efforts to prioritize funding for MAP and other programs that have the greatest need," said the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports. "Given the adverse trade environment facing much of U.S. agriculture, this illustrates again the need for increased funding for MAP to assist U.S. producers.”

In addition to Cantwell and Crapo, the amendment was also proposed by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Angus King (I-ME).

The full text of the amendment is available HERE.