Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest recently questioned policy experts on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on trade matters preventing Mississippi farmers and ranchers from exporting their agricultural products to the European Union.
Mississippi’s Third District is one of the most diverse agricultural districts in America, with row crops, livestock, aquaculture, and horticulture throughout the district. Unfortunately for most of those farmers, existing trade restrictions with the European Union has kept their products out of Europe. The European Union has banned U.S. poultry since 1997 and most U.S. beef since the 1980s, and it has denied markets for other U.S. agricultural commodities, lacking any scientific evidence behind the decisions. The European Union has continued to exclude U.S. agriculture from ongoing trade negotiations.
Guest questioned Heritage Foundation European trade expert, Dr. Ted Bromund, on how Congressional and Executive Branch negotiators can pursue trade opportunities in Europe for American agriculture. Bromund expressed the solution to stalled trade negotiations lies in European political leadership, explaining that trade barriers have been caused by the European agriculture constituency that refuses to play by fair-market rules.
“We cannot negotiate an industrial free-trade agreement without negotiating an agriculture free-trade agreement,” Bromund said. “We have to call on European political leaders to exercise significant political leadership as the Congress is trying to do in this U.S. case. To push European Ag producers, and to push European Ag consumers, to recognize importing U.S. agriculture goods is a good thing, a healthy thing, and an important thing for the wider health of the U.S.-EU trade relationship.”
Guest asked Bromund if EU leaders were aware of the importance of U.S. agriculture inclusion in negotiations.
“No doubt EU leaders understand the importance of U.S. Ag products as a sticking point of negotiations, that is why the French refuse to do it,” Bromund said.
Guest also asked about the growing danger of trading spheres around the world. Bromund emphasized a world of a Western and Chinese trading sphere is exactly what the Cold War was trying to prevent.
“We must do everything in our power to preserve the trading freedom and prosperity of our allies and partners,” Bromund answered.
Guest serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade.