|WASHINGTON – House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture, and Horticulture Ranking Member Jahana Hayes delivered the following opening statement at today’s hearing entitled “Stakeholder Perspectives on Agricultural Trade.”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to the witnesses for testifying today about the importance of agricultural trade, and how we can improve upon the Title III trade programs. You all have a vital role in our food systems, and I appreciate your testimony.
This Congress, we have the enormous responsibility of reauthorizing the Farm Bill. A Farm Bill that will support our farmers and keeps families fed. I am committed to ensuring that no child, no senior, no veteran, no one in this country goes hungry.
Two weeks ago, House Republicans passed a bill putting nearly one million Americans at risk of losing their SNAP benefits.
34 million Americans struggle with food insecurity, 9 million of which are children. I did not come to Congress to starve children, and I would hope members of this subcommittee feel the same.
With all of the discussion from my Republican colleagues about cutting SNAP, they haven’t held any public hearings in this committee or subcommittee to discuss this issue.
Nutrition programs account for 85% of the $1.4 trillion Farm Bill. Programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, and Commodity Supplemental Food Program also deserve our attention.
The members of this subcommittee must have a chance to review nutrition programs and work in a way that puts food on the table for families.
Today, however, we are here to receive testimony from stakeholders on Title III agricultural trade programs. The United States is one of the top agricultural exporters, trailing only the European Union.
However, farmers and producers are navigating a new landscape. Natural disasters, climate change, and shipping costs impact the agricultural market.
I am also concerned with the protective measures used by our international trade partners. From arbitrary restrictions on U.S. products to import duty tariffs on specific products.
I am happy to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative are responding to these problems. I am also committed to addressing these barriers and protecting the agricultural market for producers in this country.
Title III of the Farm Bill contains several important trade programs. The Market Access Program helps trade associations and small business build export marks through marketing and promotions. The Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) creates, expands, and maintains foreign markets for generic U.S. products. These and other programs work cohesively to build, develop, and maintain foreign markets.
An expanded market for food products brings stability to everyone in the food and agriculture sector, from farmers, producers, and truck drivers to food retailers, grocers, and restaurant workers. The livelihoods of these workers are dependent on a robust agriculture market.
According to the USDA, the agriculture, food, and related industries contributed roughly $1.2 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product and $196 billion for agriculture exports. This activity also supports about 71,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in wages in my district.
We have before us an impressive and very qualified group of witnesses, and I am excited to hear testimony on both the Title III trade programs and the overall state of agricultural trade.
Thank you, I yield back.