A deal to allow the U.S. federal government debt ceiling to rise is now law after a difficult period of debate.

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service export market development programs are not included in initial budget cuts required under this law. However, funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program that USW uses to develop beneficial services for overseas wheat buyers and wheat food processors may be vulnerable to cuts before the end of this year.

To allow the federal government to borrow more money to pay its debts, the deficit legislation requires an immediate reduction in discretionary spending of $900 billion. MAP and FMD are mandatory programs and thus their funding is initially unaffected.

A new joint congressional committee will form to identify an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction and report its recommendation to Congress by Nov. 23 of this year. That recommendation could reduce or eliminate funding for MAP, FMD and other mandatory programs.

Congress must then vote on the recommendations by Dec. 23.

If the committee cannot reach an agreement, automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs would occur to achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions. In that case, cuts to MAP and FMD appear likely.

“Without the MAP and FMD programs, U.S. Wheat Associates would not be able to continue our work,” said USW President Alan Tracy (visit www.youtube.com/uswheatassociates to see a video presentation on how USW uses producer dollars, combined with MAP and FMD, to assist wheat importers).

Together with the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), USW is keeping U.S. wheat growers informed about the potential impact budget cuts may have on programs that help them compete in the growing global wheat market.

After he signed the debt ceiling bill into law on Aug. 2, President Barack Obama pledged a renewed focus on creating jobs.

He said he wants “Congress to pass a set of trade deals — deals we’ve already negotiated — that would help displaced workers looking for new jobs and would allow our businesses to sell more products in countries in Asia and South America.”

Unfortunately, Congress started a month-long recess almost immediately after the budget debate was over, delaying any action on the free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, South Korea and Panama until September.

Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas was quoted as saying differences on how to get Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) through Congress in tandem with the agreements was holding up a final agreement.

“Every day that goes by without these trade agreements is a missed opportunity,” he said. “With unemployment lagging, manufacturing declining, and overall economic growth stagnating, these agreements would provide immediate relief and opportunity to reverse these negative trends.

“Like every other state in the nation, Kansas would benefit tremendously both in economic activity and job creation as a result of finalizing these agreements.”

For more information, visit http://bit.ly/qWJCye / or read “Groups Urge Immediate Action on FTAs” below.