06.13.19

Chairman Roberts Hears from Administration on Current, Future Ag Trade Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing titled, “Certainty in Global Markets for the U.S. Agriculture Sector.”

“It is time to look toward the future. While an update of activities is certainly appropriate, today, I hope to also hear about the future of U.S. agriculture trade policy. This includes not just restoring certainty to markets that the U.S. either had through negotiated agreements or as a traditional, competitive supplier, but what will be done to improve access to those same markets and broaden it to others,” said Chairman Roberts.

“The question is, what is being done today that will enable us to be a reliable supplier around the world tomorrow? How can we continue to strengthen trading relationships that we have worked for years to establish, while also building new opportunities around the world?”

To watch the hearing and read testimony, click here.

Click here to watch Chairman Roberts’ opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. I call this meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry to order.

Ambassador Doud, Undersecretary McKinney, and Dr. Johansson, we are happy to have you all back again before the Committee to discuss the need for certainty in our global agricultural markets.

International trade policies and their impacts on the United States’ agricultural economy has been a topic of great interest over the last few years.

In fact, this is the second time in the last year that we are hearing about the efforts being made at the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Agriculture. Efforts that I hope eventually will result in long-term, reliable markets for United States agriculture.

A great deal has happened in the nine months since you all last appeared before this Committee.

Perhaps most significantly to our Members, was the successful passage and enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Much like negotiations with international trading partners, the path to a final Farm Bill agreement was not easy. There were many challenges and differences to overcome, and the final bill had to bring together Members of both the House and Senate who represent incredibly diverse populations and regions of agriculture.

But ultimately, with the support of Ranking Member Stabenow and other Members of this Committee, we persevered, and accomplished a strong bill, with historic bipartisan support – a bill that provides certainty and predictability to farmers, ranchers and growers across the country, including through strengthened and increased investment in our agricultural export programs.

I know that USTR and USDA have also been very busy since we were last together.

The Administration has been moving the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, or USMCA, through the Trade Promotion Authority process. Recently, the Section 232 tariffs on Mexico and Canada were lifted, and producers look forward to Congress progressing with the consideration of USMCA. 

In addition, there have been positive outcomes for the United States at the World Trade Organization in the cases against China on trade distorting price supports and tariff-rate quotas for grains, as well as the restoration of full access of United States beef into Japan.

There are many good examples of the work you both have been doing on behalf of U.S. agriculture around the world, and the Committee looks forward to hearing about the continued efforts to eliminate trade barriers and grow market access for our products.

However, these positive steps cannot truly be felt by our producers until certainty and predictability is achieved in our global markets.

Everyone around this table understands what our producers are facing back home. On top of already low prices for their crops, producers are working through floods, tornados, and weather events too numerous to list, and of course, challenges of retaliatory tariffs.

Fortunately, the Farm Bill is in place to ease some of the uncertainty felt in farm country.  However, I continue to be very concerned about the overall impacts on U.S. agriculture as a result of the use of tariffs as a policy tool.

An agreement between the United States and China is a critical piece of that certainty. It is time for both countries to remain at the table and reach the best possible deal.

In fact, there is a great deal of potential around the world for U.S. agriculture.

It appears from your testimonies that each agency is engaged on negotiations with Japan, so please share your outlook on achieving a strong, and timely, agricultural agreement. There is much to gain from a strong agreement with Japan, where we currently face a significant disadvantage to TPP countries, such as Australia and Canada.

It is time to look toward the future. While an update of activities is certainly appropriate, today, I hope to also hear about the future of U.S. agriculture trade policy. This includes not just restoring certainty to markets that the U.S. either had through negotiated agreements or as a traditional, competitive supplier, but what will be done to improve access to those same markets and broaden it to others. 

The question is, what is being done today that will enable us to be a reliable supplier around the world tomorrow? How can we continue to strengthen trading relationships that we have worked for years to establish, while also building new opportunities around the world?

Ambassador Doud, Undersecretary McKinney, and Dr. Johansson – thank you all for your work on behalf of United States agriculture. I look forward to your thoughts regarding not only what has been done, but what will be done on behalf of American agriculture.

Now I recognize Senator Stabenow for any remarks.

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