soybean field

USDA Market Development Funding Clears Important Hurdle in Washington

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) alerted USSEC today that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has apportioned the total Fiscal Year 2013 funding for all of its market development programs. The funding allocation for USSEC and other commodity groups participating in the programs has been in limbo since Oct. 1, 2012 because Congress did not pass legislation authorizing the renewal of the programs until Jan. 1, 2013. Since then USDA has been waiting for OMB to make the the funding available to FAS to allocate funds to export groups doing market development work around the world. Now with the OMB hurdle cleared, FAS will hold back a portion of the total program funding, likely 10-20 percent, to be prepared for budget cuts that may happen in three weeks when Congress must deal with the so-called "fiscal cliff." FAS is expected to make its program allocations to USSEC and other agricultural export groups next week.
The news is welcome because more than $12 million in USSEC's export promotion budget comes from FAS and many programs have been postponed or cancelled due the uncertainty of when the funding would be made available.  USSEC was expecting an increase in its share of 2013 funding due to strategy and program improvements the organization has made in recent years. However, the sequestration reserve will likely cancel out any expected funding increases and could even reduce 2013 funding levels below last year's level. Now with less than eight months left in the fiscal year, USSEC staff in the U.S. and internationally will be in high gear working to implement programs that had been planned to occur over a 12-month period.