Sasse outlines trade priorities, invites Secretary to Nebraska

Today, shortly after Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the U.S. Agriculture Secretary, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse invited the new secretary to Nebraska and urged him to "be a champion for free trade" inside the administration. 

"As you assume your new position in the Administration, I call on you to be a champion for free trade," wrote Sasse. "Your leadership on these important issues is vital now more than ever because the Administration has provided little certainty that they understand the importance of free trade policy and its many benefits for America’s farmers, ranchers, and small businesses. Specifically, I call on you to prioritize the following critical areas: 1) Advocate for free trade policies in any consideration of the North American Free Trade Agreement; 2) Advocate for U.S. leadership in the Pacific markets post Trans-Pacific Partnership; 3) Prioritize bilateral trade deals; and 4) Expand market access and make America more competitive." 

Earlier this year, Sasse convened a meeting between Perdue and Nebraska agriculture leaders, including Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Nebraska Cattlemen President Troy Stowater, and Nebraska Sugarbeet Growers President Kendall Busch.

The full text of today's letter is found below.

Dear Secretary Perdue:

Congratulations on your confirmation to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). I supported your nomination in substantial part because of your commitment to me to advocate for the expansion of agricultural export markets and defend free trade policy.
 
As you assume your new position in the Administration, I call on you to be a champion for free trade. Your leadership on these important issues is vital now more than ever because the Administration has provided little certainty that they understand the importance of free trade policy and its many benefits for America’s farmers, ranchers, and small businesses. Specifically, I call on you to prioritize the following critical areas: 1) Advocate for free trade policies in any consideration of the North American Free Trade Agreement; 2) Advocate for U.S. leadership in the Pacific markets post Trans-Pacific Partnership; 3) Prioritize bilateral trade deals; and 4) Expand market access and make America more competitive. 
 
1. Advocate for Free Trade Policies in Any Consideration of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): Any negotiations regarding NAFTA should aim to improve and preserve the agreement and highlight the historic value of Canada and Mexico as our trading partners for American agriculture.

2. Advocate for U.S. Leadership in the Pacific Markets Post Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Following the Administration’s January 2017 TPP withdrawal, U.S. leadership in the Pacific markets is vital to advancing U.S. interests in the region.

3. Prioritize Bilateral Trade Deals: The Administration should prioritize immediate trade negotiations (bilateral or multilateral) with key trading partners and allies. This not only includes Japan and the United Kingdom, but other TPP signatories.

4. Expand Market Access and Make America More Competitive: Because no one benefits from a trade war and unfair trade practices, it is imperative to seek the continual breakdown of trade barriers so that the free movement of goods can take place.

I request that you periodically update me on your efforts to advocate for free trade policies in the Administration as well as your efforts to expand American agricultural exports abroad.
 
Finally, please accept my invitation to visit the state of Nebraska. Our farmers and ranchers would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and share the unique opportunities and challenges that they face as they make Nebraska the breadbasket of the world.
 
I look forward to working with you as we work together to build trade networks around the globe and support America’s agriculture community as they feed a growing world. I pledge to fully support you in these efforts to strongly and tenaciously advocate for American agriculture and the expansion of our exports markets.
 
Thank you again for your willingness to serve as Secretary of Agriculture and congratulations on your confirmation.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ben Sasse