Panetta and Arrington Urge Nomination of Chief Agricultural Negotiator

June 29, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-Carmel Valley), a member of the House Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Trade and the House Committee on Agriculture, and Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19), a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, were joined by 26 of their House colleagues in a bipartisan letter urging President Biden to nominate a Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).  Since the role’s creation, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator has been instrumental in prioritizing our producers in trade policy and eliminating numerous non-tariff barriers for American agriculture dominance and global food security.

“In light of the increasing abuses of nontariff barriers, such as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures that affect our fresh fruits and vegetables from the central coast of California, it’s vital that our agricultural producers have a dedicated advocate in the Office of the United States Trade Representative,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Through this letter, we’re urging President Biden to nominate a qualified Chief Agricultural Negotiator so that we can secure greater international market access and enforce strong, science-based SPS provisions.  By focusing on reducing trade barriers, a Chief Agricultural Negotiator can ensure that our farmers continue to feed the world and enhance our food security.”

“As our farmers and ranchers recover from the pandemic related supply and demand disruption, it is imperative they have a strong Chief Agricultural Negotiator to represent their interests across the globe,” said Rep. Arrington.  “Nominating our lead negotiator for agriculture is critical to enforcing our current agreements and establishing new deals that level the playing field for our producers and eliminate trade barriers, which will expand America’s ability to provide the safest and best agricultural products to the world. I want to thank Mr. Panetta – my friend and fellow champion for US agriculture – for his bipartisan leadership to support our farmers and ranchers.”

The letter can be viewed here.

 

Key excerpts:

“We write to urge you to nominate an individual for the role of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). As you know, trade is essential to the livelihood of the American agriculture industry as it spurs economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers, and our rural communities.  By promoting the importance of improved and expanded market access for U.S. agriculture, a Chief Agricultural Negotiator would help expand our agricultural trade and enhance the agricultural economy of our country.”

Sound agriculture trade policy is imperative for our producers as many commodities are export dependent and rely on a level playing field in foreign markets. In fact, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, and more than 20 percent of U.S. farm income is generated through exports.  With U.S. agricultural production outpacing domestic demand for many commodities, American farmers and agribusinesses rely on global markets to sustain prices and revenues. As a result, agricultural exports have grown steadily over the last few decades, reaching over $135 billion in 2019, up from $46.1 billion in 1994.  This growth in capacity has also spurred job creation, especially in rural communities, as agricultural exports in 2018 supported 1,048,000 full-time jobs, including 691,000 jobs in the nonfarm sector[…]”

“For several years, our producers have experienced price declines, retaliatory tariffs, severe weather, drought, and other hardships that have been out of their control.  Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested our supply chain resilience and reminded Americans that having an affordable and abundant supply of food, independent of foreign adversaries, is essential. For example, fresh vegetable exports in 2020 to Japan and Taiwan were down 35 percent and 12 percent, respectively.  It is critical the Chief Agricultural Negotiator promotes American agriculture around the world and works vigorously to advance existing and future markets for our producers.

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