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USTR and USDA Co-Host the Agricultural Advisory Committees

By Tiffany Enoch

This week Ambassador Kirk and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack co-hosted the meeting of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees for Trade (ATAC).

Kirk Vilsack
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack looks on as U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk addresses the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees

In his remarks to committee-members, Ambassador Kirk touched on many current agricultural trade issues, including the importance of making Russia a part of the rules-based trading system by granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR). Ambassador Kirk discussed the implementation of our trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and the immediate benefits to the American agriculture community; specifically, Ambassador Kirk noted a five percent increase in the value of U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia in the first few months following entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement. Ambassador Kirk also updated committee members on the work of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which has significantly increased U.S. capacity to investigate and pursue potential trade agreement enforcement cases by leveraging existing resources more efficiently across the government. He closed by briefing the committee on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and on the progress of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group (HLWG), which both have implications for agricultural trade.

Secretary Vilsack addressed the challenges of rural America and noted the barriers for agriculture trade throughout the world. He called for Congressional leaders to help revitalize rural America.

Ag Committees
Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Vilsack co-chair the Agricultural Advisory Committees

Agricultural exports are a very important component of the U.S. economy and our international trade. Since 1960, our agricultural exports have outpaced our imports, generating a surplus. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS), we are on track to export $143.5 billion in agricultural products in this year. These exports will support over 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers and exporters in the U.S.