The ingenuity and productivity of America’s farmers will ultimately determine their future. While American farmers are the best in the world, they face many 21st century challenges, including competitive global markets, unpredictable climate conditions, and increased costs due to regulatory compliance and a tight labor market. Congress and President Trump have worked to help American farmers by leveling the international playing field, making investments in rural communities, and removing regulatory barriers to farmers’ success.
American farmers’ access to global markets has been incredibly beneficial to their success. Unfortunately, many of our global partners are insulating themselves from competition by subsidizing their domestic markets and disincentivizing their consumers from buying American agricultural products. This is accomplished by taxing American goods and placing limitations on American exports. Among the notable limitations are China’s 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, Canada’s highly subsidized dairy industry, and the European Union’s extensive quota system for agricultural products.
The Trump Administration has been committed to fixing broken international trade agreements by requiring countries to have fair trade deals with the United States. Among other efforts, the administration is working with the Chinese to remove barriers to trade in agriculture, and to end intellectual property theft, cyber theft, currency manipulation, and other non-tariff barriers. Moreover, the administration is in the process of opening trade negotiations with the European Union. I am working with my colleagues in the House to ensure the negotiations include agricultural trade barriers.
Congress also passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which supports agricultural exports by funding overseas marketing activities and reducing infrastructural impediments to trade. Additionally, this bill reauthorized a wide variety of farm programs and improved the crop insurance system, which helps farmers make it through unpredictable weather and market conditions.
Also, for years, farmers have been threatened with losing their livelihoods because of the federal death tax. Under The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress doubled the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person. No farmer should ever be forced to sell off their family farm because of a death in the family, which is why I advocate for a complete repeal of the death tax.
Congress also worked with the Trump administration to repeal the overbearing Waters of the United States Rule. This Obama Administration rule is used to grab almost unlimited control over bodies of water, to which nearly every farm in the country connects. This power grab would have cost American farmers over $465 million in compliance costs.
The American farmer is the backbone of countless families and communities in Ohio. More needs to be done to create a level playing field for farmers. While trade is a big part of this, it also includes basic government functions, including the maintenance and improvement of highways, ports, locks and dams used for transporting agricultural products. Reforms must also be made to temporary agricultural workers program to ensure that farmers have a consistent legal supply of labor.
On Saturday, March 2, I will continue the discussion on the state of our agricultural economy at the 2019 Eighth Congressional District Farm Forum at Edison State Community College from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. This year’s distinguished panel of speakers includes: Jim Buchy, former Ohio State Representative; Jack Irvin, Senior Director of State and National Policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and Dorothy Pelanda, former Ohio State Representative and newly appointed Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. It is my honor to serve in Congress and represent the work and needs of Ohio farmers in the modern economy.
Congressman Warren Davidson (R-OH) was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a June 2016 special election. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he had the honor of serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, The Old Guard, and the 101st Airborne Division.