House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa of California delivered the following statement at today's hearing on stakeholder perspectives on agricultural trade.
[As Prepared for Delivery]
"Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing on trade from the perspectives of the people actually growing, raising, and selling agricultural products.
"Trade is what drives demand and sustains markets for so much of what we produce in California and across the country. My home state is the nation’s leader in agricultural production growing and raising more than 400 commodities, and represented 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value at nearly $50 billion in cash receipts in 2018.
"The President’s trade agenda has adversely impacted farmers in California and nationwide. He says you all should buy bigger tractors and prepare yourself for the boomtime to come, but his trade aid package merely attempts to make up for the access we should have had all along. The billions in Market Facilitation Program payments are clear proof that the polices of the last several years have moved us further away from the free and open markets in which American agriculture thrives, to say nothing about inequities in the program structure, especially as related to specialty crop growers.
"Now nobody up here is going to dispute that farmers need to be compensated for the pain they’ve gone through. But Chairman Peterson said it last week, and it’s worth repeating: a farm economy propped up by payments from the government is not a healthy farm economy. And as Sec. Perdue said last week, we know farmers want trade and not aid.
'So how do we get to that point?
"I’m proud to support our bipartisan US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and I hope that means big things for each of your businesses and countless more like them. Japan Phase 1 was a good start but we need to address other dairy and rice issues which continue to prevent full access on par with what we would have received had we stayed in the Transpacific Partnership. I also remain skeptical of the initial deal with China. I hope it moves the markets but we need to wait and see what actually gets purchased here. We especially don’t know what this coronavirus outbreak is going to do to our market demand. I do appreciate the progress on technical barriers to trade with China in this initially agreement, but I’m keeping an eye on implementation there too as well as on what sort of opening we agreed to give Chinese citrus into our markets.
"Looking ahead, we need to turn our focus to United Kingdom and the European Union, as I’m especially concerned with how to support U.S. poultry exports into those markets. And we shouldn’t look away from what we’re doing that’s been a proven success. Farm bill trade promotion programs under the jurisdiction of this subcommittee like the Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development Program, and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops have a decades-long track record of establishing a foothold for American farmers in foreign markets.
"Look, I’m as optimistic about the future, and about what our farmers can do abroad, but the Administration needs to get out of their way and let them sell their products. Hopefully you all have some ideas how we do that."