The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference recently wrapped up with a comprehensive overview of the Biden administration’s current trade initiatives and their potential impact on red meat exports. Longtime U.S. trade negotiator Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, who is now a trade policy consultant with AgTrade Strategies, LLC, praised her successors for their efforts to address trade barriers that limit U.S. agricultural exports. But she questioned the degree to which the Biden administration has prioritized agricultural trade, noting that Congress still has yet to confirm the nominees for USTR chief agricultural negotiator and USDA undersecretary for trade.
“So it’s hard to get that political push for agriculture when it’s not the priority that it has been in prior administrations — including the Obama administration,” Bomer Lauritsen said.
She spotlighted tense relations between the U.S. and China but noted that the vast Chinese market still holds tremendous opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports.
“I think it’s important to try and separate food trade, and to calm some of the rhetoric we’re seeing in our own politics related to China,” she said. “While I know that your industry is having some difficulties with China, I would still argue that the Phase One Agreement that we negotiated is a huge success.”
Bomer Lauritsen closed by emphasizing the critical need for U.S. agriculture to remain engaged on U.S. trade policy.
“If you’re not there speaking up, you’re never going to see any positive changes,” she said. “You must engage with people at the civil service level — where I was — as well as with your elected officials in Congress and your foreign country counterparts, or things won’t get fixed.”