The Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, under the chairmanship of Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO), today held a hearing on the impact of foreign sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures on small family farms and agriculture exports. SPS measures are non-tariff food requirements from foreign nations intended to protect the health and safety of their populations and environments. While SPS measures permit all nations to ban products that are unsafe, in too many instances foreign nations have imposed SPS measures that have little to do with scientifically-based safety concerns and have instead become the preferred means to protect their own agriculture industries from competition.
"U.S. farm exports reached a new record of $136.3 billion in the 2011 calendar year, making America the world's largest agricultural exporter," said Chairman Tipton (R-CO). "On top of an historic drought, many exporting small farms, including potato farmers in my district, are dealing with a barrage of problems that are making it harder for them to do business. Unfair trade barriers shouldn't be another hindrance to the international marketplace for the agriculture community. SPS measures can be used by foreign governments to manipulate trade practices in violation of their treaty commitments, even though the EPA and FDA and many international organizations have used scientific methods to certify American products as safe. These barriers are hurting jobs. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports over 8,000 American jobs, therefore we must make fair trade a higher priority. This hearing provided valuable insight on this issue and we pledge to work to ensure that American exports, agriculture products and otherwise, receive fair treatment in international markets."