The Market Access Program, the $200 million U.S. Department of Agriculture program that helps fresh produce commodity groups promote exports, could face budget cuts.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan commission appointed by President Obama to propose ways to balance the budget, listed MAP in a Nov. 10 draft of budget cuts.

The five-part plan includes spending caps, tax reform, health care savings, savings through cuts in farm subsidies and military and civil service retirement and changes to Social Security.

In listing $200 billion in possible federal spending cuts, the commission proposed reducing farm subsidies by $3 billion per year by reducing direct payments and other subsidies, Conservation Security Program funding, and funding for MAP.

Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said fresh produce groups typically receive between 20% and 25% of MAP funding.

Guenther said the MAP program is not new to challenges.

“The MAP program has always faced challenges from the budget cutters who don’t understand the value of that program,” he said. “Unfortunately people are uninformed about the value of what it offers.”

He said criticisms of the MAP program are typically rooted in past perceptions of the program, not how it works today.