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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Today, Senator Patty Murray announced that the Senate-passed Farm Bill will help farmers, cooperatives, and small businesses open new markets for Washington state's farm products.

The bill gradually increases funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program (MAP) from its current level of $90 million to $200 million.

"The Market Access Program opens doors for Washington's farm products," said Murray. "Whether its apples or lentils, MAP helps grow markets for our farmers and ranchers."

MAP helps farmers, cooperatives and small businesses to conduct market promotion in foreign markets. MAP funds can be used for advertising and other consumer promotions, market research, and technical assistance. Federal funds are matched by industry funds.

"Washington state is the most trade-dependent state in the nation," added Murray. "I have supported opening new markets for our products. I have also been a strong supporter of giving our farmers and businesses the tools they need to compete. The global marketplace is tough, it's extremely competitive, and it's not always based on the free market. Foreign governments have taken an aggressive posture in promoting their products. We need to be aggressive too."

MAP has been an effective tool for overseas market development. For example, each year the apple industry receives roughly $3 million in export development funds from the USDA Market Access Program. These funds, matched by grower funds, are used to promote U.S. apples in more than 20 countries throughout the world.

Since 1987, when the apple industry first used MAP funds, apple exports have increased by 88 percent. Nearly one-quarter of fresh U.S. apple production is exported each year, with an estimated value of nearly $400 million.