Agriculture Under Secretary Michael Scuse joined Tim Hamilton, Executive Director of Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast, as well as Dave Ramirez of Ohio-based Trophy Nut, to discuss the benefits of the Farm Bill to expand markets around the world and grow American agricultural exports. Secretary Vilsack has called on Congress to expedite passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that continues USDA support for market expansion around the world and builds on efforts that have helped achieve record agricultural trade over the past five years.
Under Secretary Scuse emphasized the importance of agricultural exports to job creation, as well as the critical need for a dependable safety net that will allow America's producers to continue providing a reliable food supply at home and abroad.
U.S. agricultural exports reached a record $140.9 billion in fiscal year 2013 and supported about a million U.S. jobs. In fact, compared to the previous five-year period from FY 2004-2008, U.S. agricultural exports from FY 2009-2013 increased by nearly $230 billion. The past five years represent the strongest five-year period in our nation's history for agricultural exports.
Meanwhile, America's farmers and ranchers remain the most diverse and productive on the planet. USDA support, provided in large part by the Farm Bill, has enabled producers to grow more in the face of complex uncertainty from the weather and markets.
As a result of America's agricultural productivity, U.S. families pay less for the food they consume at home, as a portion of their income, than the people of any other nation.
USDA has worked hard under the Obama Administration to open new markets for agricultural products around the world, while ensuring that our producers have the tools they need to grow more here at home. A new Farm Bill would continue these efforts.
- A Farm Bill would continue trade promotion programs that provide $35 in economic benefits for every dollar invested. Specifically, a new Farm Bill would continue efforts under the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program.
- Since 2009, USDA has led more than 150 U.S. agribusinesses on agricultural trade missions to China, Colombia, Ecuador, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.
- In addition more than 1,000 U.S. companies and organizations – about 70 percent of them small and medium-sized businesses – participated in USDA-endorsed trade shows around the world. A new Farm Bill will allow this number to grow further over the next several years by enabling even more direct efforts to market U.S. products abroad.
- In addition to new trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, USDA helped achieve organic equivalency agreements with Canada, the European Union and most recently Japan – reducing red tape and boosting opportunity for organic growers.
Farm Bill programs would complement efforts that USDA has undertaken to break down unfair barriers to U.S. trade.
- USDA has assisted in Administration efforts to challenge more than 750 sanitary and phytosanitary trade barriers since 2009. These challenges in World Trade Organization monitoring and enforcement meetings have helped to ensure a level playing field for U.S. producers. This compares to less than 400 such challenges in the previous five-year period.
- In 2013 alone, these efforts expanded market access for U.S. beef to nations around the world, including Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong and Indonesia, and contributed to record U.S. beef exports of $5.9 billion.
- In recent years, USDA trade enforcement efforts have expanded access for U.S. dairy exports to China and the European Union; potatoes and rice to South Korea; horticultural products to Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia; cattle to Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Vietnam; poultry to Russia, the Gambia and Belarus; and more.
And a new Farm Bill would ensure that our producers have the tools they need to continue growing more at home, keeping food affordable for Americans and fueling exports around the world.
- More than 159,000 direct and guaranteed farm operating and ownership loans since 2009 have helped America's producers keep growing. A new Farm Bill would allow for continued credit programs to assist farmers and ranchers across the nation.
- Farm Bill disaster assistance provided more than 400,000 payments to farmers and ranchersbefore these programs expired in 2011. Critical assistance has been unavailable since that time for producers dealing with drought, floods, severe storms and many other disasters. A new Farm Bill would not only reauthorize disaster assistance – it would provide retroactive help for livestock producers who have been hit by drought and other disaster in recent years.