Ag Undersecretary Scuse recants opposition to CAFTA-DR agreement in quest for TPA | TSLN.com

Ag Undersecretary Scuse recants opposition to CAFTA-DR agreement in quest for TPA

Agriculture Undersecretary Michael Scuse today told the nation's state agriculture commissioners they should support trade promotion authority for President Barack Obama, and recanted his own opposition to the free-trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic that led the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to oppose it.

In a speech to NASDA, Scuse said that as the Delaware agriculture commissioner, he did not have a high opinion of the CAFTA-DR agreement because it reduced poultry tariffs over a 17-year period. Delaware is a major poultry producer.

He noted that he "was one of the ring leaders that led NASDA to oppose it on a national basis."

Saying "to show you how wrong I was and how others were," Scuse reeled off a list of the increases in exports to the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Total exports to those countries doubled from $1.9 billion in 2005 to $3.8 billion in 2013, Scuse said, and he listed product export increases during that time frame:

▪ Wheat exports grew from less than $260 million to almost $530 million.

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▪ Poultry meat and product exports increased from just over $60 million to nearly $200 million.

▪ Pork and pork product exports grew from less than $30 million to almost $150 million.

▪ Dairy exports increased from less than $70 million to more than $170 million.

▪ Fresh and processed fruit exports grew from less than $50 million to $115 million.

▪ Fresh and processed vegetable exports went from less than $30 million to nearly $100 million.

▪ Beef and beef product exports grew from $12 million to nearly $65 million.

▪ Cotton exports increased from less than $65 million to almost $110 million.

"What happens to trade in 2015 will in fact shape the future for U.S. agriculture," Scuse told the commissioners.

"We need these trade agreements, we need new markets and we need meaningful access for our farmers and ranchers," he added as he asked the commissioners to encourage Congress to pass trade promotion authority and to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Nebraska Agriculture Commissioner Greg Ibach asked Scuse, "Does your soul feel free at last since you made that CAFTA confession?"

Scuse asked "how many would stand up" and admit error, but added, "I do feel liberated, Greg."

–The Hagstrom Report