Senator Says Export Promotion and Food Aid are Essential in Next Farm Bill
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) today received testimony during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing examining the performance of U.S. trade and food aid programs considered for the 2007 farm bill. In his opening remarks, Sen. Chambliss said the hearing will help the Committee understand what is necessary to better target resources, expand agriculture exports, and more efficiently utilize precious resources in our food aid programs.
"Trade has always been an essential part of agriculture policy and the future profitability of farmers and ranchers will continue to rely upon strong export markets," said Sen. Chambliss, Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Amid ongoing free trade negotiations with South Korea, and other countries, and the negotiations in the World Trade Organization, the importance of trade will only grow in the future. Likewise, the food aid programs are a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and along with the domestic feeding programs, provide much needed food assistance at home and aboard."
Sen. Chambliss noted that export promotion and food aid programs are essential parts of the farm bill as agriculture remains one of the few sectors of the U.S. economy with a net trade surplus. Last year, U.S. agriculture exports continue to set records totaled over $70 billion, a 12 percent increase from the previous year. Imports are growing as well totaling $65 billion in 2006, which is a 10 percent increase from a year before. Additionally, the U. S. donates over half of the world's food assistance.
"We should continue to provide a strong level of support amid growing demands worldwide," said Sen. Chambliss. "I believe we can integrate high levels of flexibility while retaining the existing structure of food aid programs. More importantly, we should think creatively in order to respond to changing circumstances and to attack the fundamental roots of poverty around the world, while at the same time maintaining political support for these programs at home. Through the contribution of agricultural commodities, American farmers and ranchers participate and have a profound effect on the foreign policy of the United States."