The U.S. government provides millions of dollars a year to large agricultural-export companies that do not need the money. The taxpayers pay for these subsidies.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn does the nation a favor with his Treasure Map report. It shows which companies got how much money. It does not get the publicity it deserves. This probably pleases the companies.
Here are the basics.
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With a host of other agricultural priorities, it is time to reduce funding for this program. At a time when we are cutting funding for our troops, taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the filming of Reality-TV shows in India, wine tastings for foreign journalists, pet food advertising, and even to advertise pet shampoo anymore. We need to make tough choices.
More than ten years ago, many of the financial beneficiaries of this program were some of this country’s largest corporations. Treasure MAP has found that many of those same companies are still indirectly receiving the government funding through this program. You will recognize many of these as household names, such as Welch’s, Sunkist, and Blue Diamond. Despite their combined $2 billion in sales in 2009,
these companies received more than $6 million in 2012 from taxpayers for product promotion. Also receiving millions from taxpayers for private overseas advertising are the agricultural trade groups whose members include Tyson Foods, Purina, Hershey’s, Georgia-Pacific and Jack Daniels.
The California wine industry, which had domestic sales of $17.9 billion in 2009, drank in nearly$7 million this year through its industry promotion group, the Wine Institute, Cotton Council International, on behalf of the American cotton industry received $20.2 million from MAP (and another $4.7 from another USDA market development program) in 2011, the same year in which U.S. cotton crop receipts were estimated to exceed $8.2 billion.
While promoted as a merit-based program, the Market Access Program has become a permanent subsidy to some of the nation’s most prominent agricultural companies and trade associations. . . .
Blue Diamond Growers is the self-proclaimed “world’s largest tree nut processing and marketing company.” Since 1999, the company has received more than $28 million from the Market Access Program to market its almonds overseas. Blue Diamond’s trademarked products17 are the dominant almond products brand in the United States, found in 93 percent of all American grocery stores. . . .
Though the wine industry in California already accounts for 90 percent of American wine exports24 and has retail sales in the U.S. of nearly $18 billion, California’s Wine
Institute is the one of the single largest recipients of Market Access Program promotional funds.
In 2012, the Institute has received $6.9 million from taxpayers, and has received nearly $60 million in the past decade through the Market Access Program. . . .
Let’s Design is a popular reality television program in India where, “aspiring designers create fashionable outfits using cotton” and where contestants compete for prizes and nationwide exposure. In 2011, the program announced: “Let’s Design is back for a third season and this time it’s all about falling in love. Play up the romance, with chic designs, flamboyant colours, romantic laces, cute frills and more. Just be ‘Naturally in Love’.
Let’s Design was created by the Cotton Council International (CCI), which received $20 million in US taxpayer funds through the Market Access Program.