Soybean shippers back export promotion program
U.S. soybean shippers have experienced tremendous growth in exports with the help of federal export promotion initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, the head of the American Soybean Association told House lawmakers on Thursday.
Last year, the United States exported a record-setting $23 billion in soybeans, soybean oil and soybean meal. This impressive export growth could not have been achieved without the FMD, said ASA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Censky before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, which is reviewing export promotion programs and their effectiveness in expanding exports of U.S. agricultural products.
“These programs have been tremendously successful and extremely cost-effective in helping expand U.S. exports of soybeans and other agricultural commodities, including corn, wheat, rice, cotton, livestock and meat products, dairy, forest products, peanuts, seafood and a host of horticultural products,” Censky said.
The FMD program is a public-private partnership program dedicated to the long-term development of foreign markets for U.S. agricultural exports. ASA’s FMD funding is leveraged on a 2-to-1 basis with funding for international marketing provided soybean farmers themselves under the soybean checkoff and by contributions from exporters.
“FMD is cost-effective,” Censky said. “According to a recent comprehensive study conducted by Global Insight for FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service), the multiyear impact of the increase in market development expenditures by both industry and government is equal to $35 in agricultural export gains for each dollar spent.”
ASA became a FMD program 'cooperator' in 1956, when it opened a foreign market development program in Tokyo. At that time, Japan was importing only small quantities of U.S. soybeans. Today, Japan is a top market for U.S. soybean products, surpassed only by China and Mexico. U.S. exports of soybeans to Japan are valued at $1.3 billion.
ASA opened an office in Beijing in 1982. Through a long-term and comprehensive program of demonstrating the value of soy-based feeds, ASA helped build demand for soybeans in China. The value of U.S. soybean exports to China has grown 26-fold since 1996, from $414 million to more than $11 billion in 2010.
“The FMD program helps U.S. agriculture overcome the effects of foreign trade practices,” Censky said. “As just one example of the competition we face, the European Union recently announced that it will spend the equivalent of $1 billion this year on promoting agricultural exports, and that it plans to increase this amount on an annual basis. By comparison, the U.S. will spend $234.5 million on FMD and MAP (Market Access Program) this year.'
International marketing activities for the U.S. soybean industry are implemented by the U.S. Soybean Export Council. These activities to expand international markets for U.S. soybeans and products are made possible through ASA’s investment of cost-share funding provided by FAS, support from cooperating industry, and by producer checkoff dollars invested by the United Soybean Board and various State Soybean Councils. ' Chris Gillis