Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 100th Annual Agriculture Outlook Forum

ARLINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered remarks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 100th Annual Agriculture Outlook Forum. In her remarks, Ambassador Tai highlighted how the Biden-Harris Administration’s economic policies have lowered trade barriers abroad for American agricultural products and increased access for farmers and producers in global markets. Ambassador Tai also affirmed the Administration’s commitment to crafting a more inclusive and fair economy, especially for those in rural areas. 
Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Hello, everyone. I am delighted to be here with you today and to see so many of you here.
Farmers, ranchers, producers, processors, government officials, industry and association leaders, and market analysts—you span different backgrounds and experiences, and I want to welcome all of you to Washington.
Your broad participation tells us something—that the agricultural sector and its workers are vital to the U.S. economy and our broader society. 
From Day One, President Biden’s vision was to build the U.S. economy from the middle out and the bottom up.  And trade policy plays a key role to craft a more inclusive and fair economy, for all in the United States and beyond.
This is why, as the U.S. Trade Representative, it is my priority to travel across the country and around the world to see firsthand the impact that agricultural trade has on so many communities. 
Whether it is Mahogany Farms in South Carolina, or West Bijou ranch and its bison in Colorado—or even having the great honor of meeting Chocolate and Chip in North Carolina, the turkeys pardoned by President Biden last year. 
I have walked on your land and have heard your concerns clearly.
Our Administration fully understands that wins for American farmers are wins for our rural communities as a whole. It is important to us that all our people get their fair share and are not left behind. That we democratize opportunity for players of all sizes, and not just the big ones.
Secretary Vilsack and his entire team at USDA have been great partners to realize this vision. We have been teaming up to make sure that the benefits of trade make it all the way to the farm gate, and that U.S. farmers, ranchers, producers, and exporters compete on a level playing field.
And I am glad to tell you that, over the past three years, we have seen the highest levels of agricultural exports and record levels of farm income. We have been working hard to open markets for U.S. products, and we have secured real, economically meaningful wins.
Let me give you some examples.
We had some major breakthroughs with India last year. 
A 70 percent reduction of the tariff on pecans. Removal of retaliatory tariffs on several products, including almonds, apples, chickpeas, lentils, and walnuts. Commitments for additional tariff reductions on frozen turkey, frozen duck, as well as fresh, frozen, dried, and processed blueberries and cranberries. 
That is 10 commodities that have seen large tariff reductions from India in just over a year.
With Japan, last January, a new beef safeguard agreement went into force, which will allow our beef exporters to more reliably meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality U.S. beef. 
And that’s not all. We also pressed Japan to implement a new biofuels policy that will allow U.S. producers to capture up to 100 percent of Japan’s on-road ethanol market.
Moving on to Africa, we re-opened South Africa’s poultry market, so that U.S. poultry and poultry products from 27 states can serve that market. 
But it’s not just about opening new markets. We also know that we need to enforce our existing trade agreements so that our people enjoy the full benefits of those agreements.
That is exactly what we have been doing, including under the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement, or the USMCA.
I know many of you are following the Mexico biotech corn issue closely.
Mexico’s policies regarding agricultural biotechnology threaten to cause serious economic harm to U.S. farmers and Mexican livestock producers. Not only that, those policies stifle important innovations needed to help producers respond to pressing climate and food security challenges.
This is why, last August, the United States established a dispute settlement panel under the USMCA. We will do everything we can to resolve our concerns.
Canada dairy is also a personal issue for many of you.
We continue to have serious concerns about how Canada is implementing the dairy market access commitments under the USMCA. We will continue to work with Canada to address this issue, but we will also not hesitate to use all available tools to enforce our trade agreements.
That is because, if we really want to see trade benefit more people across our economies, we need to follow the rules we agreed to. It is fundamentally about fairness, and our Administration will continue to fight so that U.S. farmers, ranchers, producers, exporters, and their workers receive the full benefits of our existing trade agreements.
At the same time, we are also seeing agricultural imports grow, and there was a slight trade deficit in U.S. agricultural trade for 2023. 
I want to tell you that a this should not be cause for alarm. On the contrary, this highlights the current strength of the American economy.
The U.S. dollar is extraordinarily strong at the moment, which gives American consumers more buying power on the international market.
Also, products that are really driving those import numbers up are things like high-value distilled spirits, tropical fruits, coffee, and other products that we do not produce widely in the United States.
Now, I also mentioned that we have seen record levels of farm income. However, those gains have not been enjoyed by all American producers.
Only about 7.5 percent of our nation’s farms secured 89 percent of that record income.  This is not okay. We can and must do better.
That is why our Administration is working holistically to support our rural communities through trade. 
Throughout the remainder of the Forum today, you will continue to hear from other colleagues on specific ways we are empowering and equipping rural farmers and family farmers. 
But at USTR, I often say that we are putting the “U.S.” back into USTR. That means we are intentionally meeting rural communities where they are, so that their concerns and priorities are reflected in our policies. 
We have come so far, but of course, there is more we can do.
We are charging full-steam ahead. We are continuing negotiations with our partners in the Indo-Pacific and Africa. We are laser-focused on deepening our existing relationships and creating new ones—all to get more wins and open more doors for our farmers and producers. 
And we will continue to fight for more equitable outcomes for all our people, across all our societies.
In closing, I would like all of us to think about how we can use trade as a force for good. To empower more workers and working communities. To bring about inclusive prosperity. To promote fair competition, so that everyone—especially the smaller players and those in rural areas—can thrive and not just survive. 
This is not just an American issue—is in our collective interest to pursue this vision. All of you play a critical role in achieving that future, and I am grateful for your partnership.
Thank you, and I hope you have a productive forum.