Ways and Means Committee: Expanding U.S. Agricultural Trade and Eliminating Barriers to U.S. Exports

As Congress continues to review the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), absorbing its details, studying economic impact reports, and working with the White House on a legislative strategy, the Ways & Means Trade Subcommittee held a forum today on the importance of high-standard, enforceable trade agreements to expand exports, support U.S. agricultural jobs, and grow the economy. Agricultural experts from across the country gave their testimony, answered questions, and submitted statements on trade and the TPP.                           

John Weber, President of the National Pork Producers Council, explained how agricultural exports create new jobs and impact the U.S. economy:                 

“Farm and food exports have a positive multiplier effect throughout the U.S. economy. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, every $1 in U.S. farm exports stimulates an additional $1.27 in business activity.”                                

“This economic activity creates jobs. Every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports requires the full-time work of approximately 7,550 Americans throughout the economy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Exports in 2015, therefore, supported more than 1 million full-time jobs, and more than half of those jobs were created in the past 10 years.”  

Randy Mooney, Chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Farmers of America, highlighted jobs generated by dairy exports:

“It is remarkable that, while for agriculture as a whole each billion dollars in exports generates 5,780 jobs, in the dairy sector each billion dollars in exports generates over three times as many jobs.”

Kevin Paap, Chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation Trade Advisory Committee, confirmed the USITC report’s findings on TPP’s positive economic impact:

“Our analysis of TPP shows a significant positive impact on agriculture with an increase of net exports to the TPP countries of $5.3 billion annually and a boost to net farm income of $4.4 billion annually. Due to the agreement’s overall benefits for our farmers and ranchers, the American Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership.”

Dale Foreman, past chairman of the Washington Apple Commission, and Heather McClung, President of the Washington Brewers Guild, gave a clear and comprehensive explanation of how trade agreements like TPP make it easier to trade. Mr. Foreman testified that addressing non-tariff barriers, like TPP’s “groundbreaking” rules on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and geographical indicators, are just as important as cutting tariffs to level the playing field for American farmers. Ms. McClung further noted that “maintaining quality during shipping and customs processes” are crucial for beer exports.

Mr. Paap summed up the panelists best when he said:

“The TPP Agreement provides an opportunity to increase markets for U.S. agriculture and establish science-based standards for agricultural trade within the TPP region. It is a measure that the Congress can accomplish that will assist a wide variety of farmers and ranchers for many years to come. A failure to lead in this region will allow other nations to make trade deals, reduce market opportunities for U.S. agriculture and set the standards for trade throughout the Pacific region. We have seen time and again that U.S. agriculture loses market share in important export markets when our competitors have trade agreements in place and we do not.”                 

You can watch the full forum here or read Mr. Weber, Mr. Mooney, Mr. Paap, Mr. Foreman, and Ms. McClung’s  statements here.