May 09,2002

Grassley on Open Markets for Farmers

We’re here to talk about the Dayton-Craig amendment. As you know, this amendment wouldallow a point of order against any change to our trade remedy laws in a trade implementing bill.

In my view, this amendment, if it becomes law, would have an immediate and very damagingaffect on the ability of United States negotiators to do what we pay them to do: go out and get goodtrade agreements. No country is going to want to negotiate with the United States if they know theSenate gives the President its authority to negotiate with one hand, but stands ready to take it backwith the other. The people who would lose the most if this amendment becomes law are America’sfarmers and ranchers.

Agriculture is still the most highly protected sector in the world. The average global tarifffor agriculture is about 62 percent. Our farmers and ranchers will gain a lot if we can bring highworld tariffs down to our low levels.

But we won’t stand a chance of convincing our trading partners to improve market accessfor our farmers and reduce their trade distorting agricultural subsidies if they know Congress canrewrite an agreement that may take years to put together.

I don’t for a minute doubt the sincerity of the sponsors of this amendment. But as a familyfarmer who knows how important exports are to the survival of American agriculture, I just believethey are wrong. If President Bush has shown us anything, he has demonstrated his determinationto preserve – and to use – our trade remedy laws.

So it is ironic that under President Bush’s watch, America’s trade agenda may be harmed,in spite of the President’s zealous use of trade remedy laws. If it is adopted, this amendment wouldmake the President’s job at the negotiating table a lot tougher, and maybe even impossible.