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D.C. Dispatch: Iowa delegation makes ag trade push

By Robin Opsahl

Iowa’s federal legislators are calling for more support for Iowa farmers amid rising costs and potential cuts to international trade.

U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley called for the U.S. trade representative to intervene against the country’s plan to ban the importation of American genetically modified corn. The proposal would effectively stop the importation of 90% of U.S. corn to Mexico by January 2024, according to an Ernst news release.

According to the U.S. Grains Council, Mexico is the top customer of Iowa corn with 16 million tons exported to the country each year. Mexican agriculture officials said the country could cut imports of U.S. yellow corn by half, according to an October Reuters report, with plans to increase domestic production.

The Republican senators wrote a letter to Ambassador Katherine Tai, calling for her to formally request dispute settlement consultations under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.

“Any interruption to these shipments will severely affect our farmers and the state’s economy, and have dire economic consequences for the entire Corn Belt,” the senators wrote. “President Obrador’s decree is not only a non-starter for America’s farmers, but it is also impossible to implement.”

U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne and Ashley Hinson helped introduce legislation in the House supporting international agricultural trade. The Supporting Market Access to Reinvigorate Trade (SMART) Act would add nearly $470 million to two programs focused on exporting American-grown products.

Axne said doubling the funding for the Market Access and Foreign Market Development program could increase agricultural exports nationwide by over $7 billion. Iowa, which was the second-largest agricultural exporter by state in 2021, would reap major benefits from the increased funding, she said.

“Iowa farmers produce some of the highest quality products that feed and fuel the world,” Axne said in a statement. “Through further investment in the successful Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, producers will have access to new markets that will enable them to continue to compete globally against foreign competitors.”

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of the States Newsroom, a network of similar news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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