WASHINGTON - Lawmakers must reform the nation's sanctions policy to improve export opportunities for U.S. producers, Texas Farmers Union President Wes Sims of Sweetwater, Texas, told the House Agriculture Committee today.
Sims, testifying on behalf of National Farmers Union, told the committee that Congress must take action to capitalize on the administration's recent decision to permit sales of food to countries under U.S. sanctions.
"Agricultural sanctions unfairly punish U.S. farmers and ranchers," said Sims. "Fewer sales opportunities mean declining prices for farmers and ranchers and lower income. Over the longer term, sanctions damage our reputation as a supplier and bolster the position of our competitors by giving them market share, which allows them to sell products at a premium to leverage their position in other markets."
At the recent National Agricultural Summit, hosted by NFU, the leadership of 28 of the nation's farm organizations unanimously adopted language expresing that U.S. exports of food and fiber "should not be used at the subject of sanctions."
To further improve sanctions policy, Sims suggested lawmakers:
* adopt legislation to exempt farm products from existing and future unilateral sanctions imposted by Congress or the administration;
* clarify and more consistently apply regulations concerning commercial, guaranteed credit and humanitarian transactions for all customer nations, and
* take action to restore both the market potential and our reputation as a reliable supplier in markets that have been under sanction.
Sims added that NFU has endorsed sanctions legislation authored by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Richard lugar, R-Ind., that was approved by the committee last month.
In closing, Sims stressed that Congress must improve the farm safety net, establish a fair and level playing field in global agricultural trade and keep global and domestic markets competitive if U.S. producers are to achieve some level of economic stability.
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