Public Policy Positions
Adopted July 30, 2002
Updated September 26, 2007
The U.S. Grains Council believes that open, liberalized trade of all goods and services is vital to the prosperity of the world economy.
I. Trade Policy
Agricultural exports are vital to the nation's economy and the balance of payments. The U.S. government must develop a clear, consistent export policy that responds to changing international market needs. Following are some specific areas that should be addressed in the development of any such policy.
1.1 Interdependence of Trade: An export policy must recognize the interdependence of the world's trading nations. The U.S. Grains Council believes that U.S. government policy must recognize that the United States will not be able to expand its exports unless it is willing to promote the liberalization of the world's trading system.
1.2 Supply Assurance: The U.S. Grains Council opposes unilateral economic sanctions that restrict or prohibit the sale of U.S. agricultural products to other countries. The Council believes the United States should work to enhance the food security of importing nations by pursuing a multilateral supply-assurance commitment within the WTO that would provide international buyers access to agricultural products equal to the access enjoyed by domestic customers.
1.3 Contract Sanctity: An export policy should respect the integrity of existing export contracts. The U.S. Grains Council believes that all U.S. statutes should be made consistent with this principle.
1.4 Continued Support of International Trade Negotiations: Access to foreign markets for U.S. feed grains and other agricultural products often is limited by import barriers, export subsidies or other trade-distorting government policies. The Uruguay Round made useful progress by incorporating agriculture more fully into the rules of the multilateral trading system. The United States should work to make the World Trade Organization an effective forum for promoting policy reform and for resolving trade disputes. In addition, the United States should continue to seek agreements that enhance regional trade, and should participate actively on behalf of expanded market opportunities for feed grains and other agricultural products in the Doha round of multilateral negotiations. The Council also favors Most-favored-Nation tariff treatment to all countries.
1.5 Continued Support for Development Funding: Any export policy should recognize that future export growth may greatly depend on the financial ability of developing countries to import U.S. agricultural products. For this reason, the U.S. Grains Council believes that support for developmental assistance and increased funding for the International Monetary Fund, Export-Import Bank, World Bank, U.S. AID, the P.L. 480 program and other institutions and programs should be key components of agricultural trade policy, provided that their efforts are conducive to expanding U.S. exports.
1.6 Restrictive Trade Mechanisms: An export policy should not support mechanisms which, though designed to stabilize trade and supply, could actually restrict trade. The U.S. Grains Council opposes direct government marketing of agricultural products and the negotiations of an international coarse grains agreement. The U.S. Grains Council supports tariffication of all non-tariff trade barriers and the timely elimination of such tariffs.
II. Domestic Policy
The U.S. Grains Council supports domestic policies that enhance U.S. competitiveness and encourage growth in agricultural exports. Exports of agricultural commodities and value-added products contribute to the economic viability of U.S. agriculture and should be considered when determining the impact of domestic legislation.
III. Grain Quality
The U.S. Grains Council believes that grain quality and meeting customer requirements are important to maximizing U.S. exports of feed grains. We promote and support an industry-wide commitment to the delivery of feed grains into export channels that takes into consideration the compositional value of feed grains and the needs of the enduse consumer. Ultimately, however, quality is a private contractual matter between the parties directly involved.
IV. Market Development
Market development activities build demand for U.S. feed grains while serving humanitarian and economic needs of countries receiving such assistance. For this reason, the U.S. Grains Council supports the increase of funding for market development activities and the concept of multi-year funding. Agricultural market development programs should remain within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
V. Agricultural Export Assistance
The U.S. Grains Council supports negotiation in the WTO of disciplines on the full range of export credit programs and other government-sponsored measures that influence the financing of agricultural exports. These negotiations must build on the approach adopted in the Uruguay Round, which treated export credits differently from export subsidies. The disciplines should be transparent, clearly understood, implemented equitably and with relative ease, and monitored effectively. A key objective of the negotiation should be to ensure the continuation of viable U.S. export credit programs.
The Council also favors non-discriminatory extension of U.S. agricultural export credit programs to all developing countries.
VI. Cargo Preference
The U.S. Grains Council opposes application of cargo preference requirements to agricultural exports. Imposition of such requirements reduces the competitive position of U.S. exports. Support for the U.S. Merchant Marine should be borne by the general treasury rather than by individual sectors of the economy like agriculture.
VII. Agricultural Biotechnology
As part of any worldwide effort to increase food production and quality, the U.S. Grains Council recognizes that agricultural biotechnology will serve an important role. The U.S. Grains Council, which represents barley, corn, grain sorghum and related products:
1.1 Supports enforcement of the sanitary/phytosanitary provisions negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which require regulations to be risk-focused, science-based and not used as trade barriers;
1.2 Supports regulatory guidance to the food industry on the voluntary labeling of products to meet consumer preferences; however, opposes any mandatory labeling of consumer products derived from agricultural biotechnology except to identify physically active compounds that have proven health or safety risks;
1.3 Encourages the government to vigorously defend U.S.-approved agricultural biotechnology products from unreasonable testing, unnecessary labeling requirements and other non-tariff trade barriers;
1.4 Encourages the and other countries to proceed as rapidly as possible to develop appropriate standards and agreements with a goal of having and accepting equivalent standards for crops, plants and commodities entering international commerce.
1.5 Respects the biotechnology regulatory requirements of an importing country and calls upon technology providers to: perform a market assessment in consultation with the value-chain for the specific crop; obtain appropriate market authorizations for each regulated biotechnology product in major U.S. export markets with functioning regulatory systems; and develop detection methods for growers, grain producers, processors and buyers prior to release for commercial production in the United States.