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New Interagency Task Force Will Seek to Boost U.S. Agricultural Exports

Boosting U.S. agricultural exports will be one of the objectives of a new interagency task force established by President Trump in a 25 April executive order. According to press reports, agricultural producers hope the task force’s work will help ease escalating trade tensions with key export markets. The task force will be chaired by newly confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and include Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative-designate Robert Lighthizer, among others.

The EO directs the task force to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that meet a variety of objectives focused on promoting U.S. agriculture and ensuring that regulatory burdens do not unnecessarily encumber agricultural production, constrain economic growth or increase the cost of food. Specific objectives include encouraging the production, export and use of domestically produced agricultural products; improving food safety and ensuring that regulations and policies implementing federal food safety laws are based on science; and advancing the adoption of innovations and technology for agricultural production. A report outlining findings and recommendations is due to the White House within 180 days.

Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance, said the task force will solicit input from the agricultural community and that he expects U.S. farmers, ranchers and others to emphasise the importance of access to export markets, particularly Canada and Mexico. The farm sector is a “net contributor to lessening the trade deficit,” Starling said, and its “real potential for economic growth is … finding new markets for our products overseas.” He noted that NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership offered “goods things” for agricultural exporters and opined that “those things now become a part of the new conversations.”

Starling added that other trade-related topics expected to come up in the task force’s work are biotechnology import approvals by foreign governments and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

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