By Ambassador Allen F. Johnson
Office of the U.S. Trade
Missouri’s history is full of
pioneers and adventurers. Just one
example is the Lewis and Clark Expedition which set out from
Mo., 200 years ago this
year to explore the west. Just like
these pioneers and adventurers, Missouri agriculture now stands
poised at the brink of a new destination, but this time, that destination is the
As one of the nation’s top ten
producers of cattle and calves, rice, corn, hogs and soybeans,
Missouri’s agriculture sustains a
more than an $4.8 billion industry with farm and farm-related employment of over
616,000 people. It is because of this success that
Missouri’s farmers and ranchers
find themselves part of a national debate that will set the future course for
States’ agricultural community.
There are two possible visions
for the future: one looks inward and is stagnant; the other is outward and
dynamic. The inward vision focuses
only on supplying our domestic market.
To limit our ambitions to the domestic market is to endanger the growth
prospects for this and future generations of
U.S. farmers. To
sustain our productivity, we must recognize that a growing global economy
creates new opportunities to access new customers and rapidly growing markets
overseas. Ninety-six percent of the
world’s consumers live outside of the United
As the world’s population and
world food consumption continues to expand so will the demand for the high-value
products where the United
States has a comparative advantage. Nationwide, exports of agricultural
products grew more than three times as fast as the total of all
U.S. exports in
the last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast record
agricultural exports of $62 billion for this fiscal year. The
United States is
#1 in the world for exports of corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat and, in most
years, #2 for beef.
Exports are crucial to
Missouri’s rice, cattle, and corn producers. Exports accounted for $1.2 billion for
Missouri farmers and ranchers in 2003. Missouri is third in cotton and cottonseed exports
and fourth in rice.
U.S. exports to our traditional markets continue
to grow. For corn, exports to our largest market,
Japan, continue to enjoy steady growth – topping
$1.7 billion in 2003 and on track to exceed that level this year. Trade with our NAFTA partners has also
continued to grow, making Mexico our second largest corn market and
Canada our fourth largest corn market. Together these two countries account for
$1 billion in export sales, nearly a 10-fold increase from 1993 prior to the
NAFTA agreement. Prior to
disruptions from the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) event in late 2003,
U.S. beef exports had also been steadily growing,
accounting for nearly 10 percent of total sales for
Realizing the need to further expand markets
around the world, we have concluded free trade agreements with 12 countries in
the last 3-1/2 years: Jordan, Bahrain, Chile, Singapore, Morocco, Australia,
Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican
Republic. The combined population
of these countries represents a market of nearly 120 million people, which is
roughly the size of the smallest 38 U.S. states.
We are working on agreements with 10 more
Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, and the five-nations of the Southern
African Customs Union (SACU). Last year, the
U.S. exported $17.5 billion to these countries,
which, taken together would ranks as our 9th largest export
These new free trade agreements, when
enacted, will expand opportunities for Missouri producers. The CAFTA countries
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and
Nicaragua) for instance, have agreed to immediately
remove tariffs on imports of prime and choice beef and will phase-out all beef
tariffs over 15 years. The
Morocco agreement provides for new access to a
market previously closed to U.S. beef.
We also achieved new opportunities with the CAFTA countries for corn, the
region where corn was first propagated, where over a million tons of
U.S. exports will be allowed immediately
duty-free immediately and all corn tariffs removed over 15
We are also advancing
U.S. interests in the World Trade Organization
(WTO) by working to level the playing field for
Americas’ farmers, ranchers and growers, who often
face high barriers to our world class products. Only in the WTO can all trading partners
be brought to the table to secure a comprehensive deal that benefits
U.S. agricultural interests by reducing all types
of trade-distorting policies.
The WTO framework agreement reached at the
end of July in Geneva will benefit American agriculture: eliminating export subsidies – including
the over $3 billion a year the EU is allowed to spend on export subsidies just
on beef and grains; reducing and further harmonizing trade distorting domestic
support – in particular the over $80 billion a year the EU can spend on
trade-distorting domestic support; and substantially increasing market access
will benefit all of American agriculture.
Only by addressing these three pillars of agricultural trade together,
all U.S. farmers and ranchers can win.
Working on the day-to-day activities
involving foreign phytosanitary barriers – animal and plant health issues. Enforcing existing trade agreements is
just as important as negotiating new agreements. In the case of beef, that has meant
working diligently with our customers overseas to explain the safety of
U.S. product after a positive BSE finding from a
Canadian dairy cow in Washington state.
A number of important markets have been reopened. For example, exports to
Mexico, our third largest market, is back up to 92
percent of previous levels and markets accounting for one-third of previous
trade have been reopened and we continue to work on the rest.
Together with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s scientists and technical staffs, we are constantly working with
industry to ensure that measures imposed by foreign countries, have a scientific
basis and are not unnecessarily trade restrictive. As needed and appropriate, we
initiate dispute settlement cases.
In fact, the United
States recently won a dispute with the Canadians
over their illegal subsidy to its dairy industry and initiated a case against
the EU and its’ restrictions on biotech products.
early pioneers and adventurers, we must look beyond our horizons to the
opportunities and adventure ahead.
To build on Missouri’s
proud heritage and ensure new opportunities for the current and future
generations of farm families, we must continue to embrace the outward vision as
the road to the future. Only by
developing export markets and continuing our long-standing agricultural
heritage, can farmers, growers, and ranchers look outward beyond
shores to the rest of the world.