President Clinton Urges Expanded Opportunities for American Farmers through Agriculture Trade, December 1, 1999


December 1, 1999

Today, President Clinton will visit the Port of Seattle to highlight the expanded opportunities for American farmers through agricultural trade. The President will tour the Port, and then make remarks to family farmers highlighting the benefits Americans gain from trade, and to reaffirm his commitment to open markets for U.S. agricultural goods worldwide during the new World Trade Organization (WTO) trade negotiating round. The President will be joined at the Port by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, Patricia Davis, President of the Port of Seattle Commission, local farmers, students from the WTO Trade Winds Project (a program designed to help local students explore trade issues faced by Pacific Northwest residents and businesses), members of the Washington congressional delegation, and state and local elected officials.

AMERICAN FARMERS - THE MOST PRODUCTIVE IN THE WORLD - DEPEND UPON TRADE: American agricultural production far outweighs domestic consumption, meaning that our farmers and ranchers rely on overseas markets to sustain their livelihoods. Expanding U.S. agricultural trade will not only boost their incomes, but also lift the overall American economy.

  • The United States is the world's largest agricultural exporter, with $49 billion in exports expected this year.
  • The United States benefits from a large agricultural trade surplus, about $11 billion this year.
  • Agriculture is twice as dependent on exports as the overall economy.
  • Agricultural exports support nearly 750,000 American jobs on and off the farm.
  • Exports represent approximately one quarter of total U.S. agricultural production.

REDUCING TRADE BARRIERS IS CRITICAL TO SUSTAINING THE GROWTH OF THE U.S. AGRICULTURAL SECTOR AND PROTECTING THE AMERICAN FAMILY FARM - INCLUDING APPLE PRODUCERS. The American family farm is the core of many rural communities - and many depend upon trade for their livelihoods.

  • Trade-dependent agricultural jobs pay higher than average wages and support a wide range of professions in both urban and rural communities.
  • Each dollar in U.S. agricultural exports creates another $1.28 in related economic activity - including processing, packaging, shipping and financing - generating about $122 billion of total economic activity last year
  • In terms of apple exports, last year, American farmers exported approximately $329 million worth of apples, with nearly one-quarter of these exported overseas. But American apples face tariffs as high as 45% overseas. American apple growers stand to gain millions of dollars in increased sales and thousands of new jobs if the new Round of trade negotiations is successful in reducing tariffs.

WASHINGTON STATE FARMERS BENEFIT FROM TRADE: Washington ranks eighth in the nation in agricultural exports, selling $1.7 billion in farm products around the world in 1998. Trade supports 25,800 jobs on and off the farm in Washington. The state's reliance on agricultural exports rose from 26% of farm cash receipts in 1991 to 32% this year.


  • Working To Eliminate Export Subsidies: The European Union spends 50% of its overall budget on agricultural supports that distort trade. This includes $7 billion in export subsidies to support the 2% of its population involved in agriculture, accounting for nearly 85% of all export subsidies in the world. These subsidies put American farmers, ranchers, and producers at a disadvantage.
  • Reducing Tariffs: Since 1948, major industrial nations' tariffs on manufactured goods have dropped 90% to an average of just 4% today. Agricultural tariffs, however, remain too high, with bound rates averaging 50% around the world - five times higher than U.S. agriculture tariffs. This disparity puts American producers at a disadvantage. The U.S. will work to even the playing field around the world.
  • Ensuring Market Access For Ag-Biotechnology: America leads the world in agricultural products developed with biotechnology. These products hold great promise and will unlock benefits for consumers, producers and the environment at home and around the world. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our food and environment through strong and transparent science-based domestic regulatory systems. In Seattle, we will continue to insist that market access for agricultural biotechnology products is based on sound science.
  • Reducing Trade-Distorting Domestic Supports: Currently, too many farmers around the world are paid to produce whether or not the market needs their products. This causes excess production and depresses international prices for agricultural products. Even after Uruguay Round commitments are fully implemented, the EU will be allowed to provide more than four times as much in domestic supports as the United States. This distorts world trade and undermine the competitiveness of American agricultural producers.

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