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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Dusty Johnson Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing: “Trade Policy and Priorities”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all the witnesses before us.

American farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality crops, livestock, poultry, and dairy products in the world, and they produce them efficiently.  That value proposition is well-known by our customers around the globe, who purchase more than 20 percent of U.S. agricultural production. 

For example, more than half of America’s soybeans (and 60% of South Dakota’s) are exported overseas. That international demand exerts upward pressure on prices and means billions of dollars for American producers.

Trade accounts for $56 of the average price received for each hog marketed in this country. These are real numbers that drive local rural economies from the farmgate to main street.

The price American farmers and ranchers receive for their production depends, in part, on the strength of the United States as an exporter and as a negotiator.

At the end of the last Administration, we made some positive progress on a phase one agreement that included numerous sanitary, phytosanitary and biotech provisions that increased the accessibility and predictability of the Chinese market.

We should not let that progress be lost between administrations and need to continue to be aggressive.

A natural first step would be for this Administration to prioritize trade—and our trading relationships—and work harder to give agriculture a seat at the table.

Frankly, this Administration’s approach to trade must become more ambitious. Every day that we fail to lead, other nations will fill the void.

It took nine months for President Biden to nominate a Chief Agricultural Negotiator, and we are still awaiting a nominee for Under Secretary for Foreign and Agricultural Affairs.

It is imperative that the priorities of each of our witnesses—and farmers, ranchers, and foresters across the country—are represented, especially as the US seeks to achieve expanded market access, increased exports, and a more level playing field. 

The Administration must also continue to seek pragmatic solutions to our supply chain crisis, which is putting a significant strain on our producers and the US economy.

The full Committee heard from a slate of witnesses a few weeks ago about the combination of challenges contributing to this crisis and breaking consumer confidence including rapidly rising inflation, skyrocketing energy costs, and a shortage of available goods and labor.

When our supply chain falters, our trading relationships suffer. I’m glad to hear many of our witnesses will be speaking to the importance of passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, which I’m leading with Rep. Garamendi.  I’m grateful for the support of so many on this committee that are helping us build momentum on that bill. 

I look forward to the remarks of our witnesses, and to learning not only about their priorities, but their thoughts on a pathway forward.

With that, I yield back.