Farm Bill Hearing: Streamlining The Trade Title to Allow Smaller Business to Participate

Ag exports in 2021 totaled $177 billion, up 18% from the previous year. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator, Daniel Whitley, says Farm Bill programs will be critical to continued growth.

“We have the opportunity to refine our programs when reauthorizing the Farm Bill Trade Title, so that they make U.S. Farm Policy more efficient. Effective equitably and sustainably while providing greater export opportunities to a vast range of markets for the benefit of US farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders.”

MAP is the largest FAS program dedicated to market access and trade promotion and Whitley says they also have a network of international offices in 180 countries working to reduce barriers and support trade dispute settlements.

“I think the ruling by the dispute settlement panel under the USMCA was clear that more needs to be done and Canada has not met what we think the ruling has indicated. We are in talks in conversation with USTR on a regular basis. This is a top priority for the Secretary and USDA and we’re working on both what we can do to continue our conversation with our Canadian counterparts. But also, what are the tools at our disposal given the USMCA agreement.”

The Farm Bill also includes funding for international food assistance through US-AID, but Assistant Administrator Sarah Charles says they are losing buying power.

“Rising transportation and food prices have cut US-AID’s purchasing power even prior to the war in Ukraine. Our purchasing power for food commodities had already dropped 11.4% in just one year. This equates to feeding 10 million fewer people in the coming year with the same amount of funding. We must look for efficiencies to help save as many lives as possible.”

During the hearing, she announced an additional $114 million dollars in funding for Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, where drought is impacting food supplies. But lawmakers also questioned how those funds support American producers.

“I can assure you that the food for peace program both as authorized and as implemented at its core is using us sourced food commodities. We do, at times, depending on the market conditions the particular needs and environment have wraparounds in terms of cash and voucher assistance.”

For the next Farm Bill, she requested technical fixes that would increase logistical flexibility, streamline applications, and eliminate barriers for small businesses looking to participate in programs.

During the hearing, US-AID also said they participate in weekly meetings with their European Counterparts to coordinate food aid in Ukraine and for the African nations that rely heavily on Ukrainian wheat exports.


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