WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a hearing to evaluate the impact of the Asian financial crisis on U.S. agricultural exports, Congressman Bill Barrett (R-NE), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, today called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider an extension of additional GSM credit guarantees and P.L. 480 commodity sales to East Asain countries, pledging to continue to use his subcommittee to lessen the impact of the Asian financial crisis on American farmers.
At an afternoon hearing to evaluate the potential impact of the Asian financial crisis on U.S. agricultural exports to Asia, August "Gus" Schumacher, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the USDA, testified that U.S. agricultural exports to Asia will decrease by more than the USDA's initial estimate of $500 million. According to the USDA, agricultural exports will decline 3-6 percent in 1998 and 1999 from what the level would have been without the Asia crisis - with a 2 percent decline in grain exports.
"Last year, East Asian countries bought forty percent of U.S. agricultural exports, or $23 billion worth of goods. With numbers like that, it's inevitable that American farmers will feel the pinch from the Asian financial crisis. That said, this Committee will not sit idly by and watch while our farmers and ranchers suffer from a monetary crisis halfway around the globe," said Barrett.
"Our government must continue to act quickly to minimize the impact of the Asian crisis on U.S. agricultural exports. So far, the USDA has responded well to the crisis, but, if necessary, the USDA should consider granting additional GSM credit guarantees and authorize P.L. 480 commodity sales to effectively protect American farmers from the Asian financial upheaval. Our USDA export programs are critical buffers for our farmers and ranchers and will determine how deeply they are affected by the Asian financial crisis," said Barrett.
Barrett represents Nebraska's Third Congressional District - the largest corn-producing district in the country - in the U.S. House of Representatives.