Selling U.S. goods and services around the world creates and maintains good jobs at home, helps small businesses, expands consumer choices, and improves American competitiveness. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders. International trade and the relationships that go with it make our world a safer, more stable place. Fewer barriers to U.S. agriculture exports allow us to deliver more food into the hands of people who need it.
Trade is vital to the success of our nation’s farmers. Foreign demand for U.S. farm goods plays a huge role in farm income. Farm exports make up a large portion of farmers’ income. In fact, more than 25 percent of all U.S. ag production ultimately goes to markets outside our borders. Currently, the success of agricultural trade is at risk. Retaliatory tariffs, lingering trade negotiations and farm income being at a decade low threaten U.S. agriculture’s trade surplus.
U.S. farmers export more by value than farmers in any other country. In 2018, U.S. agricultural exports were $140 billion, and, in 2019, our exports were $137 billion. Agricultural trade is successful because of trade agreements that have reduced barriers to our exports. In 2018, the top five export markets for the U.S. were – in order – Canada, Mexico, European Union, Japan and China, while Pennsylvania’s were Canada, European Union, Mexico, China, and the Philippines. American agriculture nearly always wins when trade agreements remove barriers to our exports, since we impose very few compared to other nations.
Highlighted issues include:
- U.S.- United Kingdom: Two rounds of negotiations have been completed virtual and the next round is scheduled for late July. The negotiations on food safety will focus on standards for chicken, beef and pork from the US to the UK. The UK needs to accommodate both the science-based approach of the US and the precautionary approach of the EU for product standards. The UK is establishing an ‘agricultural trade commission’ to protect the interests of their farmers in trade negotiations. However, no agreement can be signed until after the U.K. finalizes their trade deal with the E.U. (target: Dec 31, 2020).
- U.S.- Kenya – Negotiations began in July. U.S. objectives for agriculture include elimination or reduction of tariffs; the elimination of non-tariff barriers; the use of science-based food safety standards and specific commitments for the products of biotechnology.
- U.S.- European Union: Talks between the U.S. and the EU are not progressing. The US has imposed tariffs on various EU products and the EU is considering adding tariffs on U.S. imports due to the Boeing-Airbus dispute. The US and EU have differences as to what is to be included in any future trade agreement. The EU wants a narrowly focused discussion without agriculture. Agriculture must be included given the long-standing issues regarding tariffs, trade in meat products, biotechnology and geographic indications with the EU.
- U.S.- Japan: While most agricultural products were included in the Phase I agreement, many dairy products and rice were not covered. A planned ‘Phase 2’ of the negotiations is expected to address these products, along with SPS rules and other issues. Negotiations on Phase 2 have not yet begun.
Farm Bureau asks Congress and the Administration to support:
- Development of new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests around the world.
- New trade agreements with the European Union, United Kingdom, Kenya, and other countries that offer market opportunities for American agricultural products. Additionally, future agreements with China and Japan should include additional gains for agriculture.
- Elimination of barriers to trade, including any additional tariffs, and focus on negotiation rather than trade wars.
- Oppose any effort to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.