By Casey Wooten
The Trump administration is working to allay the concerns of some in the agriculture industry that new trade deals negotiated by the White House could leave U.S. agriculture exports behind.
Ray Starling, special assistant to the president on agriculture, agricultural trade and food assistance, told reporters March 21 that the White House has been meeting with representatives of the industry over the past two weeks to discuss concerns over the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the proposed renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“I think a lot of people on the ag front feel like what we got out of our NAFTA was generally good and that we certainly don’t want to regress on any of the gains that we made there for ag,” Starling told reporters after a “National Ag Day” event organized by the Agriculture Council of America.
Starling is one of the few voices for agriculture in Trump’s orbit, and his comments shed light on how agriculture could play a role in the Trump administration as it gears up for trade, regulatory and budgetary changes.
Agricultural trade is one of the bright spots in U.S. exports, and has largely benefited from the reduced trade barriers created by NAFTA. The U.S. exported about $38.6 billion in agricultural goods to Canada and Mexico in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture. More than 25 percent of all U.S. agricultural goods are shipped overseas. The U.S. exported about $38.6 billion in agricultural goods to Canada and Mexico in 2015, according to the USDA. More than 25 percent of all U.S. agricultural goods are shipped overseas.
Starling said the White House was aware of concerns by some in the agriculture industry that new trade policies on major agriculture trading partners like Mexico and China could hurt U.S. crop exports.
“We understand the angst in the ag community based on some of the things they may have read or seen related to trade,” Starling said. “So the last couple of weeks we’ve been cycling ag groups in and out of the White House to sort of make their case and talk about what their No. 1 priorities are.”
Farm groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Soybean Association opposed the Trump administration’s January withdrawal from the 12-nation TPP deal, saying the agreement could have increased U.S. farm income by more than $4 billion.
Starling said some of the provisions in the TPP that benefited agriculture could resurface in future trade deals. The proposed deal would have reduced tariffs and promoted U.S. access to some foreign markets.
“I hope we don’t retreat from any of that and I don’t get the sense that we will, that many of the things we worked on in TPP and many of the things that we got will now hopefully become a bit of a floor as opposed to a ceiling,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed in written statements by U.S. Trade Representative-nominee Robert Lighthizer to the Senate Finance Committee, released March 21. Lighthizer’s statement was a response to written questions submitted by lawmakers as they considered his nomination.
Responding to a question from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Lighthizer said that, if confirmed as the nation’s top trade negotiator, he would consult U.S. agricultural stakeholders on new trade deals, including a NAFTA renegotiation.
“I fully appreciate the importance of exports, including exports to Canada and Mexico, to support rural income and jobs in the U.S. food and agriculture industry,” Lighthizer said in his statement. “I also fully appreciate the importance of preserving exports and expanding upon the gains from our current trade agreements.”
Lighthizer got his hearing in the Finance Committee March 14, but hasn’t yet received a confirmation vote in the full Senate.
With assistance from Cheryl Bolen
To contact the reporter on this story: Casey Wooten in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)