|5:28 PM EDT||
John Baldacci, D-ME 2nd
Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment that has been offered by my colleague, who intends on eliminating the Market Access Program.
We revisit this issue annually. Reforms have been undertaken. The Foreign Agriculture Service reviews proposals submitted by the agriculture cooperatives and nonprofit organizations. They must provide matching funds. The FAS scrutinizes expenses and the performances.
Farmers across the country are suffering from prices having dropped. Export opportunities have been withering, and they are trying to gain a market share in countries around the world. They are competing with odds against them.
Eliminating the cost share assistance of MAP would make that struggle even harder.
As we have eliminated the trade barriers between our country and other [Page: H3816]
countries, and we have not required the same relaxation in other countries as our farmers are competing with their hands tied behind their backs, we are trying to help them to search out other markets, other opportunities, beyond their traditional markets. We have tried to do this and we have been successful at it.
The money spent in this program, $90 million, has returned, according to estimates, $12.5 billion trade surplus in agriculture. And when our country has a trade deficit of billions of dollars, this is the only part of our trade and our export that actually has a trade surplus.
In the Northeast and in Maine in particular, there are families that own apple orchards that are hurting. The money that would be helping to generate business for them in the United Kingdom is a generic promotion for MacIntosh apples which they are providing the match for. This is not a government handout but a match is required for them to participate in this program. It is a Federal program that is helping family farmers in a region where family farmers are struggling. I have been working with
lobstermen, using the MAP funds trying to open up Asian markets to them. And I have helped family-owned sardine canneries secure assistance.
This is not some huge welfare for huge corporations. This is for fishermen, for farmers, for people who are working in family-owned businesses who have chosen a rugged way of life to put food on the tables of America and the world. This program is aimed at small- and medium-sized companies. It has been reformed and it is working. It is one of the few areas of our Federal export-import program that is working very successfully and is working for small- and medium-sized family farms. I would urge
my colleagues to vote against this amendment and to keep this program working.