Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after sending a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman regarding the inclusion of enforceable agriculture safety provisions in trade agreements:
"Last year alone, Arkansans earned more than a half-billion dollars from selling agricultural products overseas. Unfortunately, the agricultural regulatory processes of our trading partners are often non-transparent and unpredictable, and ultimately, can undermine the intent and spirit of trade agreements. I raised this with U.S. Trade Representative Froman at a Ways & Means hearing on July 18, and now we are formally calling on the USTR to include fully-enforceable dispute resolution mechanisms in trade agreements currently under negotiation. It is only right that American agricultural producers have the same protections enjoyed by others under the agreements."
Rep. Griffin was joined by 75 other Members, including all of the House Arkansas delegation. A copy of the letter can be found below.
Arkansas is the country's second-largest producer of poultry. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued notice that "all poultry and poultry products shipped from the State of Arkansas on or after July 22, 2013, are ineligible for export" to China based on an isolated incident that occurred in one county in the state and was contained before posing any threat to consumers. Griffin's letter urges the USTR to include provisions within future trade deals that would ensure the strongest possible sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures so as to prevent these types of arbitrary bans on U.S. agricultural exports.