If you follow beef exports, even occasionally, then you know how crucial they are to the fortunes of U.S. producers – $227.65/head of fed slaughter so far this year. Yet, the U.S. government continues to drag its feet on the farm bill and mull cuts to agricultural programs. At the same time, competitors to U.S. meat exports are upping the ante.
According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the European Commission is proposing to more than triple its spending in the international marketplace to support the export of European Union (EU) agricultural and agri-food sector products.
Specifically, the proposal would boost European aid for agricultural exports progressively from €61 million ($82.5 million) in the 2013 budget to €200 million ($270.5 million) in 2020.
“In a world in which consumers are increasingly aware of the safety, quality and sustainability of food production methods, European farmers and small or medium-sized enterprises are in a position of strength,” said European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos. “The European agricultural and agri-food sector is well-known for the unrivalled quality of its products and its compliance with standards that are unmatched anywhere else in the world. With over €110 billion worth of exports already, this is a formidable asset for boosting growth and employment within the EU.”
“This proposal from the European Commission sends a clear message that I hope our Congress is listening to,” says Mark Jagels, USMEF chairman and a fourth-generation farmer from south central Nebraska. “With 96% of the world’s population living outside our borders, we need to focus our energy and resources on putting U.S. meat and other agricultural products on the world’s tables. If we don’t, our competitors in the EU and around the world will gladly take that business off our hands.”
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Dollars spent on U.S. export programs have proven to represent high-value investment over time.
“U.S. agricultural exports, which topped $141 billion in value in fiscal year 2012, support nearly 1.2 million American jobs,” Jagels explains. “They accounted for a $38.5 billion surplus in the balance of trade for the year – one of the few bright spots in our economy.”
Moreover, a recent study conducted for USDA says that the investment of USDA and checkoff funds in USMEF programs over the prior 10 years returned an average of $3.87 in net revenue to the U.S. beef industry per dollar invested. Net returns to the pork industry have been $7.42 for each dollar invested.
“Where better can we invest our tax dollars than in supporting agricultural exports that create jobs, bolster an essential industry and put tax revenue back into the government’s coffers,” says Jagels. “We need to take a cue from the EU and support agricultural exports rather than reducing spending on these essential programs.”
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