Senators want answers about lower ag exports

Senators want answers about lower ag exports
Mar 18, 2024

The ag trade deficit is forecasted at $30.5 billion

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The U.S. ag trade deficit could reach an all-time high this year and Republican senators want to know what the Biden administration is going to do about it.

More than 20 senators signed onto a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai asking them how they will address a projected ag trade deficit of $30.5 billion.

“What specific actions does the Biden administration plan to take to increase U.S. agricultural exports in 2024?” the senators wrote. “Does the Biden administration intend to pursue new or improved free trade agreements with any countries to obtain new market access for agricultural products in 2024?”

A reason for the challenges is how President Biden handles trade.

His policies aren’t removing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for U.S. ag, leaving the industry in a disadvantageous position, the Republican senators said.

“While the Biden administration continually refuses to pursue traditional free trade agreements, China, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and others continue to ink trade pacts that diminish American export opportunities and global economic influence,” the senators said.

Secretary Vilsack and his USMCA counterparts are expected to meet this month.

During the Commodity Classic, Vilsack outlined his talking points when meeting with Canada’s and Mexico’s federal ag ministers.

He plans to “continue to raise the concern we have in Mexico and their approach to biotechnology in terms of corn, and for me to also raise the need for Canada to continue to look for ways in which their dairy market can be more open to us,” he told attendees, Reuters reported.

The latest data from the USDA as of January shows the U.S. is already in an ag trade deficit position of more than $2.5 billion.

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