Skip to content
U.S. National Debt:

Weekly Column: Taking Action To Improve Foreign Market Access For Idaho Agriculture

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

What will the Biden Administration do to increase U.S. agriculture exports in 2024?  This is a critical question 21 of my Senate colleagues and I, as Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade agreements, are pressing the Biden Administration to answer as we urge the Administration to immediately act to improve the competitiveness of U.S. agricultural products abroad and reverse the unsustainable trend of a growing agricultural trade deficit.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, we highlighted the following concerns and stressed the need to act now:

  • For decades, the United States steadily increased market access for U.S. food and agricultural products.  We accomplished this feat through negotiations of actual free trade agreements, removal of technical barriers to trade, and holding our trading partners accountable to their commitments, all of which has helped strengthen the agriculture economy at home and developed important strategic relationships abroad.”
  • “Yet, in the last fiscal year (FY) alone, U.S. agricultural exports declined by more than $17 billion, and recent forecasts show a further decline by more than $8 billion in FY 2024.  As a result, the U.S. agricultural trade deficit is projected to reach a record $30.5 billion in FY 2024.”
  • “The current sharp decline in U.S. agricultural exports is directly attributable to and exacerbated by an unambitious U.S. trade strategy that is failing to meaningfully expand market access or reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.  While the Biden administration continually refuses to pursue traditional free trade agreements, China, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and others continue to ink trade pacts that diminish American export opportunities and global economic influence.”
  • International trade is critical to the continued success of U.S. agriculture.”
  • “Diminishing access to foreign markets for U.S. industries creates significant economic headwinds and jeopardizes the livelihoods of more than one million American workers, farmers and ranchers, as well as millions more U.S. jobs throughout the export supply chain.”

Similarly, 22 bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to Secretary Vilsack expressing concerns with the U.S. trade deficit and concluded that “our nation must be vigorous in efforts to pursue additional market access and expand exports through new trade agreements.” 

The Biden Administration must immediately start working to open foreign markets to Idaho’s workers, farmers and businesses.  The University of Idaho reported, “Growth in US and Idaho agriculture is not tied to growth in US food consumption.  An increase in the global population and food consumption has been the stimulus. . . . With global income on the increase, diets once based on two skimpy daily meals should shift to more substantial ones that emphasize animal protein, thus increasing

the demand for feed grains and meat.  Because it is the largest exporter of food and agricultural products in the world, the United States is poised to meet the demand, as should Idaho.” 

Pursuing effective trade agreements that increase opportunities for Idahoans to reach these overseas customers, rather than ceding these markets to China, will maximize growth opportunities for Idahoans.  I will continue to press the Biden Administration for better market access and enforcement of our trading rights for Idaho producers. 

# # #