WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, and Congressman Charles Stenholm (D-TX), the Committee's Ranking Member, today pledged to support adequate U.S. assitance to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and released a letter from majority agriculture producer groups calling for increased IMF funding, in the wake of an IMF Asia rescue package that will cushion the impact of Asia's financial crisis on America's farmers and ranchers.
The Clinton Administration has asked Congress to provide an additional $18 billion "credit line" to the IMF. After a largely successful IMF effort to stabilize the economies of South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia - an effort that mandated an end to many East Asian agricultural trade barriers - the IMF claims that it must bolster its resources so that it may respond effectively if the recent financial instability were to spread and intensify.
"A prosperous Asia is vital to the farmers and ranchers of the Pacific Northwest. In 1997 alone, Oregon exported more than $3 billion worth of agricultural goods, primarily to Asian countries. This Committee will not stand idly by and watch while America's farmers and ranchers lose their key export markets. I support IMF funding because, at virtually no risk to the U.S. taxpayer, our government can work with the IMF to break down foreign trade barriers and maintain agricultural exports," Smith said.
Both Smith and Stenholm released a February 9th letter from forty major agricultural producer groups, calling on lawmakers to support funding for the IMF.
"This letter demonstrates that there is widespread recognition in the agricultural community that IMF funding is extremely important to U.S. agriculture by protecting export markets for agricultural products. If we fail to act promptly, we'll stunt the growth in U.S. exports to Asia and start losing the ground we have gained in these markets," Stenholm said.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District - which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stenholm represents Texas' Seventeenth Congressional District.