On July 10, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing at a cattle auction barn in Kimball, Minn., to hear directly from farmers and ranchers in the community about how America’s trade policies affect their daily lives and what Congress can do to make trade work better for their families.
It was the fifth hearing we’ve held this year outside the halls of Congress to give working-class Americans — not lobbyists or think tanks — a direct seat at the table to help lawmakers craft solutions to the many challenges facing our nation.
Right now, farmers and ranchers are struggling under the weight of historically high input costs and the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades thanks to President Joe Biden’s reckless spending policies. And as the hearing in Minnesota made clear, the situation for farmers and ranchers will get much worse if the Biden administration doesn’t get serious about holding trade partners accountable for violating the terms of trade agreements. Minnesota corn grower Carolyn Olson told the committee that farmers won’t “survive to farm another year” if Mexico follows through on its threat to block imports of U.S. corn — a move that directly violates the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, a Trump administration trade deal that I helped write.
Following my demands for Biden to take action, in March the administration took the first step toward challenging Mexico’s ban on U.S.-grown corn and other American agriculture products. That same month, I raised my strong concerns over the issue in a meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. I’ll continue fighting to make sure our trade partners, including Mexico — our state’s second-largest export destination — aren’t violating the terms of deals they have agreed to. Minnesota dairy farmer Brad Vold summed it up perfectly, telling the committee, “Simply put, without enforcement, these agreements would end up hurting us more than helping us.”
As Missouri farmers and ranchers know full well, American-made agriculture products face artificial trade barriers across the world, hurting their ability to fairly compete in foreign markets. When I asked Minnesota cattle rancher Don Schiefelbein about the difference that having more market access would make for farmers, ranchers, and global customers, he said, “When you have the greatest product in the world, you want to have access to everywhere.” Mr. Schiefelbein described a recent meeting where U.K. government officials shared their frustrations that they can’t meet consumer demand for U.S. beef — the best in the world — because of their nation’s arbitrary limit on how much of the product they can import.
America is only 6% of the world’s landmass, and we make up just 4% of the global population, yet our farmers are so productive that they do more than anyone else to feed the world. By expanding access to markets and enforcing trade deals, we can create a stronger foundation for our Missouri farmers and ranchers to not only remain competitive, but also lead the way in a global economy. The Ways and Means Committee will continue visiting communities across the country to find solutions to the many challenges facing working-class Americans today. Stay tuned!