Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to examine the benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America.
USDA Grants Additional Loan Guarantees, Concessional Credits to Pakistan after Prodding by Rep. Bob Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Continuing his efforts to promote exports of U.S. farm products, Oregon Congressman Bob Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would again extend an additional $25 million in GSM export credit guarantees and $20 million in P.L. 480 Title I Food for Peace Credits to Pakistan.
Smith, who has made reducing non-tariff trade barriers and increasing American agriculture exports a principal focus of the Agriculture Committee in the 105th Congress, has advocated an aggressive use of export programs, including the GSM credit guarantees and the Export Enhancement Program. In May and June, Smith succeeded in securing $50 million in GSM-102 export credit guarantees to Pakistan, credits which resulted in a $45-$50 million sale of Pacific Northwest wheat.
More recently, on July 17, Smith again wrote Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, alerting him to "a unique opportunity to increase sales of U.S. soft white wheat to Pakistan." That effort paid off today, when USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service announced that it had granted another $25 million - $75 million in total since Smith's efforts began earlier this summer - in export credit guarantees and $20 million in P.L. 480 Title I Food for Peace concessional credits to Pakistan.
"I am informed that Pakistan is still in need of additional wheat. While the $300 million of available credit extended to Pakistan this year has been exhausted, I am requesting that additional credit guarantees or other programs be made available for Pakistan to purchase U.S. wheat. If we do not act quickly, Pakistan will surely purchase wheat from Australia, Canada, or another global competitor. It would be unfortunate for American wheat farmers to lose a guaranteed sale and their firm grip on an important market because we were unable to extend them the necessary credit guarantee," Smith wrote Glickman.
"I'm delighted that USDA saw the wisdom in extending additional credit guarantees to Pakistan. We have a wide range of useful, cost-effective measures to facilitate farm exports. We only have to use them. This will be good for our balance of trade, good for the Pakistani people, and most importantly, good for Oregon agriculture. It's vitally important that we act quickly and decisively in the international marketplace. It's highly competitive, and we have to out-hustle the competition. With the most efficient, productive agriculture economy in the world, we simply must be aggressive about securing foreign markets," Smith said.
The eastern region of Smith's Second Congressional District, which also includes much of central and southern Oregon, is a major source of soft white wheat and is expected to benefit as a result.