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New Study Shows High Return on Investment From Overseas Market Development Programs

Growing and maintaining export markets is essential for U.S. farmers, especially at a time of lower commodity prices and abundant supply. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program play a critical role in this effort and offer both farmers and taxpayers an excellent return on investment, according to a new study that looked at program impact over the past four decades.

These agricultural export market development programs have contributed an average annual increase of $8.2 billion - for a total of more than $309 billion - to farm export revenue between 1977 and 2014, the study showed. This equates to an impressive return on investment of 28 to 1.

“These programs have accounted for 15 percent of all the revenue generated by exports for U.S. agriculture over that time. To me, such a positive result is just stunning,” said Dr. Gary Williams, professor of agricultural economics and co-director of the Agribusiness, Food and Consumer Economics Research Center at Texas A&M University, who led the research team.
Other notable findings included:

  • As a result of MAP and FMD funding, average annual farm cash income in 2014 was $2.1 billion higher and average annual farm asset value was $1.1 billion higher when compared to 2002.
  • The programs increased total average annual U.S. economic output by $39.3 billion, gross domestic product (GDP) by $16.9 billion, and labor income by $9.8 billion over the same time.
  • These programs directly created 239,000 new jobs, including 90,000 farm sector jobs.

The U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC) plans to launch a new website in the first quarter of 2017. This site, with success stories from numerous USAEDC cooperators, including USSEC, will demonstrate the success of U.S. agricultural exports to a myriad of stakeholders.
The full study and infographics breaking down the results can be found here on U.S. Wheat’s website. The executive summary is available here.
For more information on MAP, click here; more on FMD is here.