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President's Ponderings: Federal Programs on the Chopping Block

By Edward Luttrell - President's Ponderings Blog (2/16/11)

  FEBRUARY 18, 2011 --

I believe the next couple of years are going to see substantial efforts to reduce Federal programs. Many of these proposed cuts the Grange will support or not outwardly oppose. After all, we do understand the need to reduce spending and get our national finances under control.

However, there will be proposed cuts that we will fight against. The Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program are two of those programs on the block today. The reason we oppose cuts to these programs are that they are aimed at benefiting cooperative efforts from all corners of agriculture.

The Grange was the organization that introduced the Rochdale style of cooperative principles to the United States in a practical and lasting way. Our early members saw the need to band together in both buying and marketing cooperatives to benefit the farmer directly.

Today marketing cooperatives still benefit producers of many crops and MAP and FMD are Federal programs that allow these small co-ops to effectively market internationally, in competition with the giant corporate marketers and foreign governments.

The two primary reasons we oppose the elimination of these two programs are the loss of jobs and the loss of markets.

Thousands of jobs with American companies, both here and overseas are dependent upon our farmers being able to market their crops around the world. Programs like MAP and FMD are not give-a-ways, but allow cooperatives, trade associations, small business, and the USDA to share the costs of overseas marketing development. As an example, a study found that between 2000 and 2007, of every dollar invested in export promotion, generated $23 in net revenue to the farmer and returned $115 to the U.S. economy (U.S. Wheat Associates 2010*).

Ending these two programs will also allow other countries to fill the vacuum that would be created and American farmers will most likely lose those markets. The cost and uncertainty of regaining those markets is a risk not worth the small savings. We should not repeat mistakes of the past by being penny wise and a pound foolish.

-Ed Luttrell
National Grange President

* U.S. Wheat Associates. (2010). New Study Shows 23-to-One Return on Producer Wheat Export Promotion [Press release]. Retrieved from: http://www.uswheat.org/newsEvents/newsRelease/doc/3485BF1489ECF7E4852576BA00566D68?  OpenDocument.


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