Steve Baccus, president of the Kansas Farm Bureau spoke to world leaders attending the 36th North American and European Union agricultural conference in Mexico City last week.
KFB President Steve Baccus said Thursday in remarks to world leaders that barriers between the United States and its trading partners must come down.
Baccus, an Ottawa County grain farmer, said barriers between the U.S. and its trading partners must come down. Baccus serves as chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Trade Advisory Committee.
That committee is responsible to dealing with the many substantive issues that impede U.S.-EU agricultural trade, such as long-standing barriers against conventionally-raised U.S. beef, ongoing restrictions against U.S. poultry and pork, and actions that limit U.S. exports of goods produced using biotechnology.
The U.S. and the EU are major international trading partners in agriculture. U.S. farmers and ranchers exported more than $8.8 billion in agricultural and food products to the EU in 2012, while the EU exported more than $16.6 billion in agricultural products to the U.S. last year.
Bringing down trade barriers
Baccus said those numbers could be even larger if trade barriers were removed.
"Over the last decade, growth of U.S. agricultural exports to the EU has been the slowest among our top 10 export destinations," he observed. "If U.S. farmers and ranchers were provided an opportunity to compete, the EU market could be a growth market for them. However, regulatory barriers have become a significant impediment to that growth."
Baccus also called for the addition of Japan to the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.
"The addition of Japan to full participation in the TPP talks will enhance the significance of the negotiations and make the agreement much more encompassing of North American goals for agricultural trade, as well as generate greater interest in and support for the TPP," he said. "It will also fuel interest among other Asia-Pacific nations for similar opportunities to improve trade relations with the U.S. and other participating countries."
Baccus called for North American agriculture to continue its commitment to World Trade Organization negotiations. "We must remain committed to advancing the goal of trade liberalization and increased opportunities for real trade growth," he said.
"I encourage my friends from across the Atlantic to work with us to resolve our trade issues so we each can enjoy more of the other's agricultural bounty."