Like other federal agencies, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) has ceased nonessential operations following this week’s government shut down. FAS’s closure however, means the Department has immediately discontinued administering market development programs such as the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development program (FMD), which effectively cuts off new funds to industry cooperators, including U.S. Wheat Associates, that use those monies and checkoff dollars to market American goods abroad.
With USDA staff out of operation, cooperator organizations are also forced to curtail some of their activities, which many in agriculture are worried will ultimately affect exports and the U.S. ag economy.
Adding to the uncertainty, the legislative authority to fund market development programs expired on Sept. 30 with the 2008 Farm Bill extension. USDA can continue to fund cooperators as approved in the 2013 fiscal year. However, no additional funding can be allocated to these efforts until the programs get new authorizations.