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Importance Of Trade To US Farmers ‘Cannot Be Overstated’, Farm Groups Tell Trump

The importance of trade to US farmers and ranchers “cannot be overstated,” more than a dozen US farm organizations told President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in a recent letter.

Among the groups signing the letter were National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Cotton Council, National Sorghum Producers, and National Association of Wheat Growers.

“We know that securing positive benefits for American farmers, ranchers, and workers in trade will be a priority in your Administration,” the letter stated. “This includes enforcing existing agreements so that other countries abide by their commitments, as well as expanding market access for US producers through new agreements.”

As the Trump administration assembles its team and policies, “US agricultural trade interests must be maintained, not only in existing markets but by expanding access to new markets,” the letter continued.

Distrupting US agricultural exports to countries such as China, Canada and Mexico “would have devastating consequences for our farmers and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports,” the letter continued.

Trump has already begun assembling his trade team. Last week, he announced that he intends to nominate Robert Lighthizer as US Trade Representative.
Lighthizer served under President Ronald Reagan as deputy US Trade Representative, playing a major role in developing trade policy for the Reagan administration and negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics, from grain to steel.

Lighthizer also served as chief of staff for the US Senate Finance Committee when Congress passed the Reagan program of tax cuts and spending reductions, and also aided in the passage of legislation which implemented the Tokyo Round of trade agreements. He has also represented the US at meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and meetings related to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (precursor to the World Trade Organization).

In the private sector, Lighthizer headed up the international trade law practice at Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher and Flom for over three decades. He has also been outspoken commentator on trade issues for many years.

Lighthizer “has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans,” Trump commented.

“America’s dairy farmers and processors welcome the opportunity to work closely with Robert Lighthizer as the new US Trade Representative,” Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and Matt McKnight, senior vice president of market access, regulatory and industry affairs for the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC), said in a joint statement.

“The US dairy industry, like most other agricultural sectors across America, has significantly benefited from the agricultural provisions of prior US free trade agreements. At the same time,

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