Bipartisan Group of Former Agriculture Secretaries Urges Congress to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

A bipartisan group of former U.S. Agriculture Secretaries, representing all past Administrations from those of President Jimmy Carter to President George W. Bush, issued the following open letter urging Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority.

The former secretaries note that boosting trade and exports is highly beneficial to America’s agriculture economy and that Trade Promotion Authority—which has been given to all previous presidents since Gerald Ford (with similar authority granted to all presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt)—is critical for successfully negotiating new trade partnerships that boost exports and create jobs. Congress could begin consideration of legislation to grant President Obama Trade Promotion Authority as early as next week.

The letter from the former Secretaries follows:

As former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture, we know firsthand the importance of trade to America’s farm and ranch families. Access to export markets is vital for increasing sales and supporting farm income at home. Recognizing the importance of exports, we worked hard to open foreign markets, including negotiating new or expanded trade agreements with other countries. Trade agreements lead to expanded agricultural exports by promoting economic growth, removing trade barriers and import duties and developing mutually beneficial trade rules.

Key to our ability to negotiate and implement market-opening agreements has been enactment of trade negotiating authority. This authority, now called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), ensures that the U.S. has the credibility to conclude the best deal possible at the negotiating table. TPA also ensures common negotiating objectives between the President and the Congress, and a continuous consultation process prior to final Congressional approval or disapproval of a trade agreement.

Every President since Gerald Ford has received TPA. Thanks to opportunities created by trade agreements, U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2014 soared to a new record of $152.5 billion propelling farm income also to new highs. Trade helps farmers, their suppliers, distributors and customers. Exports support rural economies and the U.S. economy as a whole through agricultural processing, ancillary services and a host of related businesses. This was true when each of us served as US Secretary of Agriculture, and it is true now.

We are excited about new opportunities for U.S. agriculture in foreign markets. Opening markets helps farm families and their communities prosper. Other governments also recognize this and are actively forging their own trade agreements. If the United States stands still, other countries will quickly move ahead of us.

For us, the choice is clear: we encourage Congress to enact Trade Promotion Authority and support trade agreements that help U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers thrive.

Signed,

Secretary Ed Schafer (2008–2009)

Secretary Mike Johanns (2005–2007)

Secretary Ann Veneman (2001–2005)

Secretary Dan Glickman (1995–2001)

Secretary Mike Espy (1993–1994)

Secretary Clayton K. Yeutter (1989–1991)

Secretary John R. Block (1981–1986)

Secretary Robert Bergland (1977–1981)

Chairwoman Stabenow Applauds Appointment of Members to New Ag Research Foundation Board

Source: United States Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition & Forestry

Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today issued the below statement regarding the appointment of board members to the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research – a new non-profit foundation created by the 2014 Farm Bill, which will leverage private and public funding to advance agricultural research.

The 15-member board of directors was officially announced today and is meant to represent the many diverse agricultural perspectives and voices and areas of expertise.

“This new Research Foundation is one of the most important victories in the Farm Bill,” Stabenow said. “We designed this foundation to leverage public-private dollars to continue making America the most productive and efficient agricultural producer in the world. America sets the gold standard for safe, abundant food production across the globe, and that’s largely because of a commitment to research and decades of investment in agricultural innovation and cutting edge practices. The appointment of board members is the first step in getting the new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research up and running.”

Debby-Delmer1
Dr. Deborah Delmer

“Agricultural research today is a critical component in American–and global–health and security,” said Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Senator Stabenow deserves great credit for her leadership in establishing the foundation in the Farm Bill, and the USDA’s choice of MSU’s Dr. Douglas Buhler for the foundation board adds a highly knowledgeable and experienced scientist and administrator.”

“We’re delighted to see the foundation up and running and proud that NCGA Chairwoman Pam Johnson will serve on the board of directors,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “The new Foundation for Food and Ag Research promises to be an important tool for greater innovation in agriculture, especially as we face the challenge of feeding a growing population, and we are grateful for the leadership of Sens. Stabenow and Cochran for making this a priority in the 2014 Farm Bill.”

Under the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, Section 7601 of the Farm Bill created the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a non-profit foundation that will raise private funds to match $200 million in public funds that will be  directed toward agricultural research.

The Farm Bill directed the Department of Agriculture to appoint board members who will guide the foundation’s research activities. The foundation will fund research collaborations between agricultural researchers from the federal government, institutions of higher education, land-grant universities and non-profit organizations.


The 15 members appointed to the Foundation board include:

  • Dr. Kathryn Boor – the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
  •  Dr. Douglas Buhler – Director of AgBioResearch and Senior Associate Dean for Research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University
  •  Dr. Nancy Creamer – Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Based Food Systems, North Carolina State University
  •  Dr. Deborah Delmer – Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of California-Davis
  • The Honorable Dan Glickman – former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, current Executive Director of the Aspen  Institute’s Congressional Program
  • Dr. Robert Horsch – Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Pamela Johnson – Chairwoman, National Corn Growers Association
  • Dr. Mark E. Keenum – President, Mississippi State University
  • Dr. Michael Ladisch – Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University
  • Dr. Christopher Mallett – Vice President of Research & Development, Cargill, Inc.
  • Dr. Pamela Matson – Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, the Richard
    and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for
    the Environment, Stanford University
  • Dr. Terry McElwain – Associate Director and Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and Executive Director, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University
  • Dr. Stanley Prusiner – Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor of Neurology, University of California-San Francisco and 1997 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine
  • Dr. Yehia “Mo” Saif – Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
  • Dr. Barbara Schaal – Professor of Biology at the College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Genetics at  the Medical School, Washington University at St. Louis

The five ex-officio board members, all of whom were designated by Congress, are USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and
Chief Scientist; Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation.

More information about the 2014 Farm Bill can be found here.