WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte chaired a hearing to review the agricultural negotiations in the Doha Development Round. In October, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman submitted a comprehensive trade proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to jumpstart the negotiations in Geneva. The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference will convene in Hong Kong December 13-18. WTO Ministerial Conferences are the highest-decision making authority and this Ministerial is designed to settle a range of issues in the negotiations so that a final agreement on the Doha Development Agenda can be reached by next year.
“There has been a lot of activity over the past few weeks concerning these negotiations and how they could affect United States agricultural producers. I am aware that recent agricultural proposal offered by the European Union has been unfortunately described by them as a “final offer”. This offer looks to be both inadequate, as it relates to market access, and overreaching, as it relates to other sectors, especially geographical indications,” said Chairman Goodlatte.
Chairman Goodlatte previously sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman outlining identifying four principles which would guide support for any final agreement including: 1) improvements in real market access, 2) greater harmonization in trade-distorting domestic support, 3) elimination of export subsidies, and 4) greater certainty and predictability regarding WTO litigation. The Chairman noted that without adoption of these principles in any trade agreement, USTR may have trouble garnering Congressional support for such an agreement.
“Those of us interested in promoting United States agriculture around the world believe our farmers and ranchers can do better in world markets once barriers of all kinds are reduced or eliminated. I hope these agricultural negotiations will pave the way for American agricultural producers to do what they do best—provide food and fiber for people at home and around the world,” said Chairman Goodlatte.
The Committee heard testimony from Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Ambassador Rob Portman as well as a variety of industry representatives. A complete witness list is included below. The witnesses’ opening statements can be found on the House Committee on Agriculture website. The Committee will continue to monitor the trade negotiations in the Doha Round as they proceed.
The Honorable Mike Johanns, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
The Honorable Rob Portman, United States Trade Representative, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Cliff Butler, Vice Chairman, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, Pittsburg, Texas, on behalf of the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council
Mr. Robert Metz, Producer and President, American Soybean Association, West Browns Valley, South Dakota
Mr. Jon Caspers, Producer, National Pork Producers Council, Swaledale, Iowa
Mr. Wythe Willey, Producer and Past President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Mr. Gerald Tumbleson, Producer and President, National Corn Growers Association, Sherburn, Minnesota
Mr. Peter Kappelman, Producer and Chairman, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Two Rivers, Wisconsin, on behalf of the National Milk Producers Federation
Mr. Christopher Shaffer, Producer, Walla Walla, Washington, on behalf of the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee, National Association of Wheat Growers, and U.S.
Mr. Don Phillips, Trade Advisor, American Sugar Alliance, St. Leonard, Maryland