Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member David Rouzer Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Public Hearing: “The State of U.S. Agricultural Products in International Markets”

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Washington, June 11, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. Thank you to Chairman Costa for holding this hearing and to all of you for joining us here today, especially our two distinguished witnesses.

I doubt that anyone in this room needs to be reminded that trade is of incredible consequence to American agriculture. From the hog farmer in North Carolina to the almond grower in California…from the wheat farmer in North Dakota to the cattle rancher in Texas…and for every farmer and rancher in between, agricultural trade and access to international markets for U.S. agricultural products often is the difference between staying in business – or not.

While this committee has long extolled the virtues of trade, we have also watched as our producers have struggled with challenges in the U.S. farm economy. Net farm income has fallen to half the level it was just six years ago. These struggles have been intensified by the illegal trade practices of some of our top trading partners. Agriculture can ill afford the market distortions that come when our competitors cheat. For example, China drives down prices here in the U.S. by building huge stockpiles of commodities, and it props up its wheat, corn, and rice farmers with more than $100 billion in annual support. American farmers can compete with anyone, but only if they have a level playing field on which to do so.

Beyond reaching a conclusion to the negotiations with China, there are steps that can be taken today to increase opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, we were able to provide a solid foundation for the promotion of U.S. farm products in the Market Access Program, the Foreign Market Development program, the Emerging Markets Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops. I look forward to hearing an update from Undersecretary McKinney on the work this administration is doing to implement these provisions and to aggressively promote U.S. agricultural products overseas.

We also have before us another significant opportunity to expand U.S trade by swiftly approving USMCA. Analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission indicates that American agricultural exports will increase by at least $2.2 billion under the renegotiated deal. Additional gains are likely to be seen from science-based improvements to export procedures and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology. With the most recent year’s agricultural trade surplus having fallen to just $10.9 billion, an increase in exports provided by USMCA is significant to our producers and to the rural communities in which they live and work.

It is vital that we approve USMCA quickly so that the fine folks at USDA and USTR can open up even more market access for U.S. food and fiber in Japan, China, and elsewhere around the world.

I thank both of our witnesses for being here today and yield back.

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