On June 14, the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade conducted a hearing on expansion of U.S. agricultural exports and elimination of trade barriers. Much of the hearing focused on the importance of gaining Congressional approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and making greater progress on agricultural trade issues in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. Archived video of the hearing is available online.
In his opening statement, subcommittee ranking member Charles Rangel (D-New York) said he understands the agricultural sector’s enthusiastic support for TPP, but questioned why there is still no timetable for a congressional vote on TPP approval. Rangel suggested that there is insufficient support for TPP as a standalone issue, but that it could be successfully paired with legislation that increases investment in transportation infrastructure, providing a boost to employment. A longtime supporter of expanding trade with Cuba, Rangel also asked the agricultural community to support efforts to lift the longstanding U.S. trade embargo.
Several witnesses, including representatives of the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau testified in support of TPP. But along with the National Milk Producers Federation and some subcommittee members, they expressed frustration with the lack of progress on TTIP and questioned the European Union’s level of commitment to opening its market to U.S. agricultural products.
The subcommittee will accept written comments for the official hearing record through Tuesday, June 28. Instructions for filing comments are available online.