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USDA Announces Improvements to Market Access Program

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2012—As part of a continuing effort to build a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that meets the evolving needs of a 21st-century agricultural economy, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) today announced changes to the regulations governing the Market Access Program (MAP) that will clarify and streamline program requirements in areas ranging from application procedures to project evaluations. The changes to MAP complement many other improvements made across USDA as part of the Blueprint for Stronger Service—the Department’s signature effort to modernize and accelerate service delivery while improving the customer experience through use of innovative technologies and business solutions.

MAP helps U.S. producers, exporters, private companies and non-profit trade organizations finance activities to market and promote U.S. agricultural commodities and products internationally. When MAP funds are used for generic marketing and promotion activities, participants must contribute a minimum 10-percent match for MAP funds. For branded promotions, a dollar-for-dollar match is required.

"USDA’s market development programs have a long history of helping farmers, ranchers, and businesses of all sizes build and maintain commercial markets for U.S. food and agricultural products around the world," said FAS Administrator Suzanne Heinen. "For every dollar that government and industry invest in market development programs and activities, agricultural exports increase by $35. These changes will help us improve access to MAP and, as a result, enhance the ability of U.S. businesses to sell high-quality American-made agricultural goods to consumers around the world."

Changes made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of MAP include:

  • Streamlining application and planning requirements under FAS’ Unified Export Strategy;
  • Specifying the types of activities eligible for reimbursement under the program;
  • Documenting operational procedures for MAP projects promoting branded products;
  • Requiring program participants to establish fraud prevention programs;
  • Revising processes for evaluation, contracting, compliance review and appeals.

In developing the revised regulations, FAS reviewed nearly 1,300 public comments submitted in response to a proposed rule issued September 8, 2009. The resulting improvements will help FAS streamline and improve delivery of MAP.

USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service is helping to make optimal use of USDA’s employees, better results for USDA customers, and greater efficiencies for American taxpayers. In addition to the MAP changes, USDA is implementing a series of other changes that will save taxpayers’ money while eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies. Initial improvements include the following:

  • Consolidate more than 700 cell phone plans into about 10;
  • Standardize training and purchases of cyber security products; and
  • Ensure more efficient and effective service to our employees by moving toward more centralized civil rights, human resource, procurement, and property management functions, creating millions of dollars in efficiencies without sacrificing the quality of our work.

For more information about the Blueprint for Stronger Service, please visit www.usda.gov/strongerservice.

The final MAP rule can be found at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/mos/programs/regulations/MAP_Regs_5-17-2012.pdf

The Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, has aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade, helping to push agricultural exports to record levels in 2011 and beyond. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity and resourcefulness of our producers. Today, net farm income is at near record levels while debt has been cut in half since the 1980s. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, boost economic growth and support President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

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Contact:
USDA Office of Communications
(202) 720-4623

FAS-PR-0082-12

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