Agricultural Marketing:

Comparative Analysis of U.S. and Foreign Promotion and Research Programs

RCED-95-171: Published: Apr 28, 1995. Publicly Released: May 19, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on U.S. and foreign promotion and research programs that are designed to increase domestic and foreign sales of agricultural products, focusing on: (1) how U.S. check-off programs are planned and organized; and (2) how comparable marketing organizations in Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom carry out their agricultural promotion activities.

GAO found that: (1) the six U.S. check-off programs reviewed vary by board composition, revenues collected, assessment methods, and options for initiating, continuing, and terminating programs; (2) check-off boards differ in their emphasis on developing domestic or foreign markets, their methods for selling their products, and their reliance on research to develop new products, enhance production, and address nutritional concerns; (3) check-off boards use market research and program evaluation techniques to plan their future activities while coordinating with related groups in preparing and carrying out these plans; (4) the foreign promotion and research programs reviewed differ from the U.S. check-off programs in their organizational structure, funding mechanisms, types of activities performed, and emphasis on export activities; (5) some foreign marketing organizations have government members on their boards or guiding councils and do not require legislative action to change their assessment rates; (6) some foreign programs promote product groups rather than a single industry; (7) in general, the foreign marketing organizations do not exempt small producers from assessments and some receive significant funding from sources other than their industry assessments; (8) foreign organizations generally engage in a wider range of promotional activities, such as buying and selling products and providing training and inspection services than their U.S. counterparts and focus more on exports than domestic sales; and (9) market development programs may become more important in the future, since the new international trade regulations do not limit their use and increase competition.

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