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Senators introduce ag biotech bill

Senators introduce ag biotech bill

The Growing American Food Exports Act would help eliminate trade barriers for U.S. ag products

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Four U.S. Senators supported the introduction of a bill intended to help American biotechnology products reach more export markets.

Indiana Senator Todd Young put forward the Growing American Food Exports Act on June 21. Fellow Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly supported it, as did Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill from Missouri.

The lawmakers have outlined the bill’s three specific objectives.

First, the bill would amend the 1990 Farm Bill to update a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Program to provide funding that helps eliminate non-tariff trade barriers for U.S. ag exports.

The bill calls for annual funding for the Biotechnology and Agricultural Trade Program. The legislation also clarifies that the Foreign Agricultural Service can advocate for new ag production techniques.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Indiana and vital to our country’s economic success,” Senator Young said in a statement Thursday. “With nearly 457.4 million acres, U.S. farmers are the largest producers of biotechnology crops in the world.”

“We must continue to provide our hardworking farmers with the tools necessary to compete and succeed.”

American farmers planted about 72.9 million hectares of biotechnology crops in 2016, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications says.

But several countries – including Russia, Peru and Kenya – ban biotech crops, making the need for this legislation more important.

“Trade is critical to America’s agricultural economy, as 20 percent of U.S.-grown goods are sold in foreign markets,” the Biotechnology Innovation Organization said in a release Thursday. “It is essential that USDA is properly equipped to advocate for America’s farmers and for the innovative technologies that make U.S.-grown goods the best in the world.”

Farms.com has reached out to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and U.S. Grains Council for more information on export challenges for American biotech products.