Today, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to discuss the Administration’s trade agenda and its FY18 budget request for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Members heard testimony from USTR Robert Lighthizer who spoke on the Administration’s top trade priorities and defended the Administration’s FY18 budget request. National Association of Wheat Growers’ (NAWG) President David Schemm submitted written testimony for the record and made the following statement:
“With the United States exporting around 50 percent of its wheat, trade is a top priority for U.S. wheat farmers. In fact, U.S. 2017/18 wheat exports are expected to reach 27.2 MMT, down 1 percent from 2016/17 but still 9 percent above the five-year average.
“NAWG welcomes opportunities to improve trade for U.S. wheat farmers, including efforts to make sure our competitors like China are playing by the rules set by the WTO and by creating new markets such as increasing access to Cuba. China’s domestic support programs have been causing significant economic harm to U.S. wheat farmers, and Cuba represents untapped trade potential within our own hemisphere, and an end to the embargo would greatly benefit the U.S. export economy.
“Modernizing NAFTA is also an excellent opportunity to improve domestic and export marketability of U.S. crops. However, NAWG strongly opposes any changes that might limit the current NAFTA’s benefits for wheat farmers and their customers. Exiting NAFTA and certain changes, could lead to tariffs on U.S. wheat and threaten to undermine the long-standing, loyal relationship U.S. wheat farmers have built with Mexico’s wheat buyers and food industry.
“NAWG is looking forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee on creating new trade opportunities for our wheat farmers and improving relationships with our current global partners.”