When I became Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in January of this year, I had one primary goal: to ensure that America’s farmers and ranchers have the policies in place that they need to feed, fuel, and clothe the nation while ensuring stability and consistency for farmers, ranchers, consumers, markets, and rural communities. After all, agriculture is the foundation of our livelihood and the lifeblood of rural America. And, while our work will never be done, we are off to a great start.
U.S. Farmers Break Trade Barrier of China's Great Wall
U.S. Farmers Break Trade Barrier of China's Great Wall:
Combest, Stenholm praise Senate vote favoring permanent trade climate
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) and Ranking Minority Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX) praised the market-opening gains for American farmers that are signaled by today's U.S. Senate approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. (PNTR).
With the new climate of open markets into China, U.S. agricultural trade is expected to increase by as much as $2 billion annually by 2005. For American farmers and ranchers, trade is an essential part of their livelihoods. Currently, exports account for 30% of U.S. farm cash receipts and nearly 40% of all agricultural production is exported.
"Today's firm backing from Congress signals that American farmers and ranchers will at last break through China's Great Wall of trade barriers," said Combest and Stenholm in a joint statement. "The Senate vote completes the work to normalize the trading climate between China and the United States, where China opens its doors and makes the concessions to become a recognized trading partner in the modern world."
Already, China has agreed that as a condition of its membership in the World Trade Organization, it would remove a variety of trade barriers against the United States in agriculture, industrial goods, and services, and to reduce its restrictions on foreign investment.
Cut overall agricultural tariffs against U.S. priority products in half (including beef, grapes, wine, cheese, poultry, and pork) from 31.5% to 14.5% by 2004.
Establish a tariff-rate quota system for imports of agricultural bulk commodities (such as wheat, corn, cotton, barely, and rice).
For the first time, permit private trade of U.S. agricultural products inside China.
Eliminate unscientifically based restrictions against American crops and livestock.
End China's agricultural export subsidies and reduce its own domestic subsidies.