Trade is becoming increasingly important to corn farmers, since nationally, we export upwards of 20% of our crop if you consider corn in all forms (corn, feed, DDGS, ethanol and livestock) and since exports account for more than 30% of our incomes. In Illinois, that number is proportionately higher. Illinois sends more corn out of state than any other. For this crop year, our partners estimate that number to be at 771 million bushels. Two programs that are critical for developing global markets for U.S. agricultural exports, including corn and corn products, are USDA’s Market Access Program (or MAP) and the Foreign Market Development program (or FMD). If a Farm Bill is not passed by September 30, 2018, these programs are at serious risk. While your Congressional representatives are home during the August recess, we urge you to have a conversation with them about how important export markets are to your farm’s profitability.
MAP and FMD were included in the 2018 Farm Bill versions passed by the House and Senate. Both bills included slight increases in overall funding; the Senate bill had a larger increase. Both House and Senate versions “fixed” the FMD baseline issue by rolling MAP, FMD and other, smaller market development programs into one program. However, recent enforcement of a 1985 budget law means FMD is set to lose its baseline when the current farm bill expires.
IL Corn’s partners at the U.S. Grains Council have confirmed that if the new farm bill is not done by Sept. 30, an extension will NOT take care of FMD funding issue.
IL Corn is urging Congress to increase funding for MAP and FMD in the 2018 Farm Bill to show that the U.S. is serious about trade and ensure that we farmers can continue to compete in the global marketplace.
We understand the budget constraints around this Farm Bill. The agriculture economy is too fragile to tell ourselves “no” on trade. This needs to be a priority.