Statement of NPPC President Ken Maschhoff on USTR Nominee Robert Lighthizer
NPPC commends Robert Lighthizer, nominee for ambassador of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, for telling the Senate Finance Committee that he places high importance on agricultural trade, and we look forward to working with him and the rest of the president’s trade team to preserve and expand foreign market access for U.S. pork.
Access to international markets is the No. 1 priority of U.S. pork producers. We are a vibrant industry, with five new packing plants coming on stream in the next couple of years, and the United States has been the top global exporter of pork, on average, the past 10 years. All of this is because of trade deals. It wasn’t until 1995 – after the Uruguay Round and the NAFTA – that our industry became a net exporter, and 20 U.S. free trade agreements later, we are now an export juggernaut. The flip side of that, however, is we now are very dependent on export markets, with 25 percent of our production being exported. Given global income growth and demographics, we know the future health of our industry is tied inextricably to preserving and expanding international market access.
At our recent annual meeting, producer after producer expressed concern about the financial bloodbath they would experience if we have a disruption in pork exports to Mexico. Further, producers expressed concern about losing market share in the Asia-Pacific region as the EU and other nations close trade agreements with Japan and other countries in the region.
His statement on agricultural trade gives us confidence that as USTR ambassador, Bob Lighthizer will work to create export opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers.
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Ken Maschhoff is a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill.