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Chair Jim Costa Opening Statement at Hearing on Trade Policy and Priorities

WASHINGTON House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chair Jim Costa delivered the following statement at today's hearing titled “Trade Policy and Priorities”

[As prepared for delivery]

Good Morning. To start I’d like to thank our witnesses, Ranking Member Johnson and the other members of the subcommittee. Trade is a vital part of our agriculture industry here in the United States. It is an essential tool for our farmers and ranchers and so many rely on strong trade relationships to ensure fair access to the global marketspace.

This hearing presents a great opportunity to hear from a diverse group of agricultural stakeholders about their trade priorities and the barriers they face to help keep us as Members of Congress aware and informed as we continue to discuss the agricultural trade policy strategy. We can then use that information to work with our counterparts abroad, and the Biden administration, to develop a trade agenda that benefits farmers.

I want to acknowledge that in our witness’s testimony supply chain concerns were raised multiple times. This is an issue that I have been very focused on and I know that we have had a few hearings on supply chain concerns in the Agriculture Committee, but I think it is important to continually remind people of the importance of remedying this problem. These slowdowns don’t just impact end consumers, they also hurt farmers and trade flows.

Constructing a productive agricultural trade agenda is important for many reasons. My home state of California is a great example of the range of agricultural products that are grown and exported from the United States. California is the most diverse agricultural state, it is the number one state in citrus production, provides close to 20 percent of American dairy production and provides 99 percent of the country’s pistachios and 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Having such a wide range of products within my state has given me perspective on the different challenges that farmers face.

That is one reason why I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today. We have an opportunity to hear from a range of commodity groups on how trade policy effects their products and how we can improve and alter our trade agreements to benefit a broad swath of American producers.

Over the past few years, we have engaged in a number of trade agreements and talks with nations around the world, including Japan, China, Canada, and Mexico. It is vital that we learn from those agreements what has benefited farmers, and what may need improvement as the new Administration reviews the performance of these trading relationships. And the trade issues that arise are changing all of the time – such as China’s continuously changing regulations that govern the rules of engagement for U.S. food and agricultural businesses. The expanded registration requirement for US facilities under Decree 248 is just one example that I’ve been hearing about recently. So, these relationships require constant nurturing. I’m pleased that this week alone, the Biden Administration is engaged in high level meetings with all of the nations I just mentioned.

Another issue that I believe must be a part of every discussion is climate change. When we think about agriculture and trade, we must consider how we can advance global adoption of sustainable alternatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I know that many of the organizations represented on today’s panel have worked to improve their sustainability and set goals for continuous improvement. I look forward to hearing how those initiatives may be advanced through trade.

The panel before us provides a depth of knowledge and varied perspective on how our trade agenda can benefit American farmers and ranchers.

I look forward to a good and productive discussion on how we can all work together to expand global access to American agricultural goods. Before the introduction of our witnesses, I’d like to recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Johnson of South Dakota, for any remarks he’d like to make.

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