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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Agricultural Advisory Committees

By Mawish Raza

Although you may not always hear about them, agricultural exports are a very important component of the U.S. economy and our international trade. Since 1960, our agricultural exports have outpaced our imports, generating a surplus. In fact, we’re likely to export $143.5 billion in agricultural products in this year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS). These exports will support over 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers and exporters in the U.S.

Congress recognized the importance of agricultural exports to the U.S. economy, and included a provision for private-sector agricultural advisory committees in the Trade Act of 1974. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, or "APAC" focuses on the various policy issues affecting agricultural trade on both the U.S. and global level. The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees, or "ATACs" provide advice on commodity-specific aspects of agricultural trade issues, and focus on areas like fruits and vegetables, or animals and animal products. You can find a complete list of the ATAC committees here.

The APAC and ATAC committees are made up of farmers, ranchers and representatives from various food and agriculture organizations and businesses across the U.S. Each committee provides information on negotiating objectives and various technical issues throughout the process of the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements.

Thanks to consultations with these committees, USTR and USDA receive critical advice from those on the front lines of the industry, ensuring that U.S.-grown agricultural exports continue to thrive.