Washington D.C.- Chairman Bob Goodlatte today said that recent agricultural exports, forecast to be a record $61.5 billion in FY04, are good news for American farmers and ranchers, and restated the Committee's commitment to continuing to increase export opportunities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released these numbers earlier this week, which if realized would be the highest ever, and an increase of $5.3 from the previous year.
"The Agriculture Committee has been and remains committed to increasing export opportunities for farmers and these numbers indicate that we are headed in the right direction," Goodlatte said. "United States agriculture depends on exports. U.S. agricultural tariffs are already very low at 12% while the rest of the world averages 62%. I place a high priority on working with the Administration to maintain a vibrant trade policy that will benefit farmers and ranchers by knocking down trade barriers around the world."
Just recently the Committee held two trade hearings to review agricultural trade negotiations during which they heard from Administration officials including Agriculture Secretary, Ann Veneman and U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, and farmers and ranchers who are most affected by agricultural trade.
Last year, the Committee held hearings on agricultural trade, biotechnology and on geographical indications. Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm also led a delegation of Agriculture Committee Members to Mexico for the WTO talks.
The Committee will continue to follow trade issues closely. This includes ongoing multilateral trade negotiations and all regional and bilateral negotiations. It also includes oversight of past agreements, such as with China , and other accessions to the WTO, such as Russia . It means looking closely at problems U.S. agriculture faces regarding sanitary and phytosanitary issues, such as those with Australia .