Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., vice chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, last week released a report detailing strong numbers for ag exports in attempt to push talks forward on a five-year farm bill.
The report, titled "The Economic Contribution of America's Farmers and the Importance of Agricultural Exports," shows the value of American agricultural exports doubled over the last decade and that growth in developing countries is expected to increase demand even further.
Specifically, the U.S. is the world's leading exporter of agricultural products, with exports of these goods reaching a record high of $141.3 billion in 2012. The also notes that although agriculture has accounted for less than 5% of the United States’ gross domestic product from 2007 through 2011, agricultural products as a share of total exports hovered around 10%.
"Agricultural exports have been one of the biggest bright spots in our economy these last few years," Klobuchar explained in a statement regarding the report. She subsequently pushed for action on a five year farm bill, explaining that trade and export provisions are needed to continue export growth.
"(Farmers) deserve the certainty of a long-term Farm Bill so they can continue to succeed," she said.
Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was tapped Tuesday to serve on a conference committee for the farm bill. She cited recommendations in the report that suggest several policy actions to enhance U.S. farm exports:
• Enacting a long-term farm bill to provide certainty for U.S. agriculture;
• Reducing barriers to exporting and promoting opportunities for small and new producers;
• Investing in transportation infrastructure; and
• Enacting comprehensive immigration reform to bring stability to the agricultural workforce.
In terms of barriers, the report shows that average agricultural tariffs remain substantially higher than those imposed on other products. It also says that applications of sanitary and phytosanitary measures can create a significant burden for exporters, in particular for producers and processors of meat products.
Despite the challenges, the report made a case for expanded exports, noting "a successful agricultural sector supports economic growth overall.
"By producing a wide variety of foods inexpensively, including fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and dairy products, America's farmers and ranchers ensure a safe and reliable domestic food supply."
Additionally, the report said, each $1 billion of agricultural exports supported 6,800 American jobs in 2011.
Read the full report here.
Source: JEC, USMEF