WASHINGTON D.C.- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman testified on agricultural trade today before the House Committee on Agriculture, where Oregon Congressman Bob Smith, the committee's chairman, warned that American farmers and ranchers can compete in any market in the world, but only if given a level playing field.
"American farmers and ranchers, the most productive in the world, can prosper only where there is free and fair world trade. In fact, if not for agriculture exports, the United States trade deficit would be larger than it currently is. In 1996, U.S. agriculture exports totaled $60 billion and the agriculture trade surplus exceeded $26 billion. Of all U.S. industries, agriculture has the single largest positive balance of trade," Smith said.
"It is incumbent on the Administration, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the Trade Representative, and other agencies of the United States government, to make sure that opportunities exist for trade expansion and that trade disputes are resolved in a timely manner. Agriculture is an extremely important and essential issue to be considered in all trade negotiations and resolutions of disputes," Smith said.
"The Uruguay Round agreement included provisions on sanitary and phytosanitary disputes and provided that sound science be the basis for resolution of such disputes. Countries' use of non-tariff trade barriers to restrict imports, especially those related to sanitary and phytosanitary issues, do great harm to American agriculture exports and the income of our farmers and ranchers," Smith said.
Smith added that, with a declining federal government role in the agricultural economy, Congress and the Administration have an obligation to actively seek out new markets for American farm products.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives.