WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to concerns that non-tariff barriers may place an unequal burden on U.S. farmers and ranchers seeking to export their products to Canada, Chairman Bill Barrett (R-NE) held a hearing of the Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities today to review questions of equity in U.S./Canadian trade.
Agricultural producers, Rep. Rick Hill (R-MT), and representatives from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) appeared before the Subcommittee to review issues including policies under current trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and their effects on American farmers and ranchers.
"The current stresses on the world economic stage are affecting United States Agriculture. Commodity prices are affected by world economic conditions. Specifically, the Asian financial crisis and the limitations on exports due to U.S. government across-the-board trade sanctions are having adverse effects on U.S. agricultural exports," Barrett said in his opening statement. "In addition, world-wide record production, and the strong U.S. dollar are creating financial problems similar to those faced by our producers in the 1980s."
"These problems are compounded by the current Administration's lack of a direct, decisive and focused export policy for our agricultural products. This includes the Administration's lack of support for fast track negotiating authority," Barrett said. "Largely because of these Administration policies — combined with the agricultural trade policies of Canada — our producers now find themselves in the situation of across the board low commodity prices. We have a responsibility to our producers to find solutions."
"I talked with Secretary Glickman on Tuesday about concerns he expressed on holding this hearing as consultations with Canada were commencing today in Montreal. During that conversation, I wished the Secretary good luck in his efforts to engage in intensive discussions with the Canadian government covering a wide range of issues affecting farmers and ranchers in both countries. We need to talk through those issues with Canada, but we have been talking for years. We need some concrete results," Barrett said.
Barrett represents Nebraska's Third Congressional District — the largest corn-producing district in the country — in the U.S. House of Representatives.