House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement in regard to an announcement by by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) that the U.S. will request a Dispute Settlement Panel against China concerning that nation’s $100 billion in excess subsidies—in a single year—for corn, rice, and wheat. USTR also announced that the U.S. will pursue enforcement action against China for its illegal Tariff Rate Quota administration which has harmed U.S. farm and ranch families:
“Over the course of the past two years, the House Agriculture Committee has held extensive hearings concerning the predatory trade practices of foreign countries which employ enormous subsidies, high tariffs, and non-tariff trade practices to advantage their agricultural sectors in violation of their own trade commitments to the harm of U.S. farm and ranch families.
“Among the most notorious is China, which can always be relied upon to thumb its nose at the rules the United States always plays by, with China exceeding its subsidy commitments by $100 billion in a single year on just three crops—corn, wheat, and rice. Put in perspective, this is more than the U.S. will legally provide as a safety net—including insurance—for more than 100 crops for the entire life of the five-year Farm Bill.
“As egregious as China’s actions are with regard to corn, wheat, and rice, they pale by comparison to China’s conduct in regards to cotton, which continues to threaten the viability of the U.S. cotton industry. It is critically important that the U.S. government take prompt action to stop China’s assault on America’s cotton farmers.
“And while China is undeniably a bad actor on the world stage in terms of not honoring its trade commitments, other nations are taking a page from China’s playbook and upping the ante, with India’s current subsidy regime being similarly harmful. India, China, and other countries that threaten the livelihoods of American farm and ranch families and the 16 million jobs U.S. agriculture creates on and off the farm must be held to account. Trade agreements are only valuable to the extent they are honored by all the nations that enter them or they are otherwise enforced.
“Trade is critical to the United States and particularly to agriculture. Agricultural exports are one of the few bright spots in our balance of trade in what is otherwise a dismal trade deficit in favor of our trading partners. What’s more, America plays a leading role in feeding a growing and hungry world. But, critical as trade is, confidence among Americans—including among our farmers and ranchers—in the framework of our agreements, at least as they have been enforced, is sharply waning. Put simply, Americans are tired of being taken advantage of. The U.S. government must restore trust in trade if America is ever to move forward with an aggressive agenda on trade.
“While the U.S. government’s action today is long in coming and only a first small step, I welcome the action and urge much, much more to come in order to one day deliver to America’s farm and ranch families—and all Americans—a fair shake at what has been to date a decades old unfulfilled promise of free markets and a level playing field.”