Monday, July 11, 2011

Market Access Program Should Be Defunded

As both Republicans and Democrats ineffectually squabble in Washington over where and how to cut the federal budget, innumerable programs that should logically be on the chopping block are being completely overlooked. One of these is the Market Access Program (MAP), which is run by the Department of Agriculture. Since it's creation in 1978, MAP has cost the American taxpayer about $3.4 billion, and currently expends about $200 million every year.

According to the Department of Agriculture, MAP "encourages the development, maintenance, and expansion of of commercial export markets for agricultural commodities" through the use of "promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products." The Department goes on to say that the activities financed by MAP subsidies "include consumer promotions, market research, technical assistance, and trade servicing."

To put it in simple terms, the federal government is subsidizing corporate advertising campaigns in foreign countries. It amounts to a financial giveaway by the government to wealthy corporate interests to the tune of $200 million a year. Though they may publicly claim to adhere to capitalism in the tradition of Adam Smith and decry any governmental interference in the economy, the big corporations are always more than happy to fill their coffers at the taxpayer's expense whenever they get the chance.

It is certainly not as though the corporations receiving these subsidies need the money. According to the group Taxpayers for Common Sense, the companies which receive these subsidies include McDonald's, Nabisco, Fruit of the Loom, and Mars. These companies generally have more money than they know what to do with, and they certainly do not need the help of the federal government in marketing their products to overseas markets. If they want to advertise overseas, more power to them. Let them pay for it themselves.

MAP should be immediately defunded. Not only is the program a classic example of the corporate welfare we need to eradicate from government, but it will save taxpayers $200 million every year. This may not sound like much when we have a national debt of $14.2 trillion, but every little bit helps. As the old Chinese proverb goes, the man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

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