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Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement on the Grain Standards Reauthorization

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following opening statement at the business meeting to consider the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020.

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

Thank you Mr. Chairman for your leadership and bipartisan work on this bill.

We know that our agricultural economy is struggling. Years of market instability and extreme weather events, on top of this Administration’s reckless approach to trade, have taken a real toll on our ability to export agricultural products. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive disruption across our food supply.

While there is much more needed to help farmers and families recover, I am pleased this legislation continues our trusted inspection system and reaffirms the role of the federal government in inspecting exported grain.

This bipartisan bill protects the interests of American farmers and ensures our credibility as a reliable producer of high-quality grains and oilseeds.

I would also like to acknowledge the ongoing labor negotiations at export grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest. I have heard troubling reports that certain foreign-owned grain companies may be failing to make good-faith efforts to reach an agreement with their workers. It’s concerning to hear they are threatening workers’ pensions and access to health care.

These protracted and contentious negotiations ultimately harm the workers, the American farmers who want certainty, and the American companies that have already put in the work to come to an agreement.

I would urge all parties to engage in the process in good faith. If left unresolved, these negotiations will undermine certainty for everyone involved in the grain trade, which is the purpose of our meeting today.

And so, I join the Chairman in urging all of our colleagues to support this bill today so that it will advance and hopefully be signed into law by September 30th.        

Thank you.