The American Soybean Association and other groups urged President Biden’s Export Council to support a proposal that would strengthen U.S. agricultural trade in a letter to the President’s Export Council. Here is an excerpt of the letter.

We are writing on behalf of the U.S. food and agriculture community to ask you to support this important President Export Council (PEC) proposal to bolster American agriculture’s global competitive standing around the world. Together, the proposal’s recommendations provide guidance for the Administration to expand export markets opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture, eliminate unwarranted non-tariff barriers, and reinforce global food security.

In 2022, American food and agriculture exports totaled nearly $200 billion, providing jobs and economic opportunity throughout the supply chain in every corner and coast of the country.

Unfortunately, in 2023 we are experiencing a 9% decline in the value of U.S. food and agricultural exports, and a 16 percent decline in volume. The latest forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the 2023 marketing year predicts a food and agriculture trade deficit of $17 billion, a stark contrast to the United States’ historical trade surplus in agricultural exports, averaging $12.5 billion over the past 10 years.

While our two million U.S. farms and ranches are the backbone of America’s food and ag sector, the impact of decreased exports and resulting economic fallout reverberates throughout the economy. More than twice as many Americans are manufacturing agricultural products as are manufacturing cars and trucks, and millions of food scientists, production workers, logistics experts, truck drivers, and engineers work in more than 200,000 food manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities. All in all, our industries are responsible for nearly 20% of the United States’ economic activity. 2 In addition to its commercial exports, the United States plays an indispensable role in feeding millions around the world as the largest country donor of international food assistance. With that in mind, we are asking the Council to support this proposal to bolster America’s food and ag industries, and with it, the U.S. economy at large. Specifically, this proposal asks PEC to:

1. Increase Collaboration on Diversifying the U.S. Agricultural Supply Chain by urging the Administration to develop recommendations to diversify sourcing and/or incentivize cost effective U.S. production of ingredients such as fertilizers, vitamins, and chemicals to maintain U.S. agricultural production.

2. Establish a Robust Agricultural Trade Agenda, comprising of a package of strategies including expanding domestic trade promotion programs, recommitting to comprehensive trade agreements where possible, and eliminating tariff and nontariff trade barriers to enhance the ability of American producers to gain export market access and maintain competitiveness.

3. Enforce Existing Trade Agreements, including through strengthening the World Trade Organization dispute resolution process and enforcing all U.S. free trade agreements.

4. Lead on International Sustainability and Climate Efforts by urging the U.S. government to coalesce around a unified message on agricultural sustainability that focuses on voluntary, incentive-based programs to support sustainable productivity growth; keeps food accessible; supports climate-smart agricultural practices and provides additional market opportunities.

American agriculture is a global leader in sustainable production and innovative practices that enable us to feed a growing world population. Therefore, the trade barriers and setbacks that we’ve experienced this year do not only threaten our economic growth, but nutritional security around the world.