Free trade deals, nutrition, African Swine Fever, and foreign acceptance of cutting-edge Ag technology highlighted the latest House farm bill hearing. Ag Republicans and witnesses argued the Biden Administration needs to do market-opening free trade deals.
National Pork Producers President-Elect Lori Stevermer; “Negotiate better market access for U.S. agriculture in the Asia-Pacific Region. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Economic Prosperity is a good starting point, but the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers should be part of the discussion.”
But not part of the intended discussion and lurking in the background—SNAP. Nutrition, Foreign Ag, and Horticulture Chair Brad Finstad; “There’s been some public fodder on the types of topics we should address, and when we should address them, namely, in the nutrition space. I want to say, rest assured, we will be discussing those issues starting at the full committee level during our first work period in June.”
Ranking Democrat Jahana Hayes fired back; “The public fodder comes from me because I am deeply concerned about nutrition and have not seen any movement on the committee in the 118th Congress.” Charging House Republicans’ debt ceiling-budget bill will endanger SNAP benefits for some one million Americans. GOP leaders deny that, but SNAP leader Jim McGovern predicted a farm bill that threatens food security is, quote “going nowhere.”
The hearing got back to market access, keeping out animal diseases like African Swine Fever and getting others to accept new Ag technology. Former U.S. Ag Trade Negotiator Greg Doud; “My most pressing concern, however, is getting our government and other governments around the world to approve these technologies, so these innovations, which improve the environment, safety, and nutrition for consumers everywhere can be commercialized.”
Doud says U.S. industry spent $23 billion in the last two years on new Ag technology, but nations like Canada and Mexico, with its pending GMO corn ban, have stood in the way.
Separately, the full House Ag Committee unanimously passed several non-controversial bills to promote Precision Ag, boost block grant disaster help, interagency Ag research, and even authorize a dog training center for USDA’s Beagle Brigade inspection teams.