U.S. legislators should take note of a new European Commission proposal to enhance ag exports, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said Thursday.
The European proposal, according to an EU statement released last week, seeks to "help the sector's professionals break into international markets and make consumers more aware of the efforts made by European farmers to provide quality products."
The total aid for exports will jump from $82.5 million in the 2013 budget to $270.5 million in 2020, if the European Parliament approves it as presented.
Those numbers are a bit daunting for U.S. Meat Export officials, who said in a statement the plan is a reminder that competitors around the world are ready to take export business from the U.S.
"This proposal from the European Commission sends a clear message that I hope our Congress is listening to," said Mark Jagels, USMEF chairman. "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."
Jagels noted that the benefits of supporting U.S. agricultural exports are well-documented.
"U.S. agricultural exports, which topped $141 billion in value in FY 12, support nearly 1.2 million American jobs," Jagels said, accounting for a $38.5 billion surplus in the balance of trade for the year.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this month commented on record ag exports for 2013, noting that a new farm bill, if passed, would continue trade promotion programs. Those programs, he said, return $35 in economic benefits for every dollar invested.
According to Vilsack, ag exports also support one million American jobs – more fodder for the USMEF, which says now isn't the time to reduce spending on export programs.
"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," Jagels said. "We need to take a cue from the European Union and support agricultural exports rather than reducing spending on these essential programs."