Committee Holds Hearing to Review Multilateral and Bilateral Trade Negotiations: ‘U.S. Agriculture Depends on Exports and a Vibrant Trade Policy,’ Goodlatte Says

Jun 18, 2003

‘U.S. Agriculture Depends on Exports and a Vibrant Trade Policy,’ Goodlatte Says

Washington D.C.- The House Committee on Agriculture today held a hearing to review multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations, during which they heard from representatives of major agricultural organizations, all representing crops grown in the United States, in order to get their perspective on ongoing negotiations and trade agreements which will have a significant impact on U.S. agricultural producers.

In his opening statement Chairman Goodlatte said, “United States agriculture depends on exports and a vibrant trade policy is important to United States farmers and ranchers. We want to seek greater opportunity for our agricultural products and trade negotiations can make that possible.”

The Committee heard from three panels of witnesses. The first panel featured Mr. Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation, Inc., Mr. Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Mr. Ernest S. Reeves, Regional Vice President for Policy, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Speaking before the Committee regarding the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations, Mr. Bauhan said, “We encourage negotiators to stay the course and work to improve market access, eliminate export subsidies, and reduce internal domestic support programs that distort production and trade. At the same time, it must be recognized that even with full, successful achievement of these goals, U.S. poultry exports will not expand unless there is the removal of non-science based sanitary and veterinary provisions that are used to limit and block out overseas sales.”

In his testimony before the committee, Mr. Reeves said, “Trade liberalization has been a key to economic growth for centuries. Nonetheless, there is a concern that past negotiations have given more access than we have received. Future trade agreements must provide favorable access to for U.S. agricultural products.”

The Second panel included Mr. Jon Caspers, President, National Pork Producers Council, Mr. Dennis McDonald, International Markets Committee Chairman, R-CALF USA, Mr. James P. “Tom” Camerlo, Chairman, National Milk Producers Federation, Mr. Alan J. Lee, Vice Chairman, Wheat Export Trade Education Committee, Mr. Robert W. Greene, Chairman, National Cotton Council, Mr. Ron Heck, First Vice President, American Soybean Association and Mr. Doug Boisen, Chairman of the Trade Task Force, National Corn Growers Association.

And, the final panel was made up of Mr. Joe Zanger, Board of Directors, California Farm Bureau Federation, Mr. Andrew W. LaVigne, Executive Vice President/CEO, Florida Citrus Mutual, Mr. Jack Roney, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, American Sugar Alliance and Ms. Sarah F. Thorn, Director of International Trade, Grocery Manufacturers of America.

“Europe continues to discuss possible compromises on partial decoupling of farm subsidies, however these half measures appear to be aimed at the Harbinson proposal to cap blue box subsidies and reduce them by half ” said Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm. “Given the fact that the US would not be able to use the blue box and that Europe’s blue box subsidies are on top of its amber box subsidies, I find it hard to see much reform in the EU’s ‘CAP reform’.”

Today’s hearing was the second in a series of hearings regarding on-going trade negotiations. The full Committee held a hearing at the end of May, on the status of WTO negotiations on agriculture. The next trade hearing is scheduled for late July at which time the Committee will invite the Administration, representatives of U.S. agriculture organizations and others to discuss the issue of geographical indications in relation to trade and the implications of the European Union’s WTO proposal on agriculture. Examples of geographical indications from the United States include “Florida” for oranges; “Idaho” for potatoes; and “Washington State” for apples.

Since becoming Chairman, Goodlatte has placed a high priority on working with the Administration to secure new agreements that will benefit farmers and ranchers.