U.S. Agriculture Secretary to Meet with Agriculture Ministers, Other EU Leaders in Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Europe next week to meet with agricultural and trade officials and stakeholders to discuss the expansion of agricultural trade, the importance of agriculture's role in the U.S.-European Union (EU) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), and the benefits the trade agreement will have to both the American and European economies. The Secretary's trip will include meetings and site visits in Brussels, Luxembourg City, Paris and Dublin.
"The EU is the world's largest importer of food and agricultural products," said Vilsack. "But despite the continued growth of this market, U.S. market share is shrinking because U.S. producers and exporters continue to face numerous trade barriers. The negotiation of the T-TIP offers a major opportunity to address these barriers and expand market access for U.S. farmers and ranchers."
Since 2009, nearly one-third of U.S. economic growth has been due to exports. America has seen record agricultural exports over the past five years, which has been critical to creating jobs in rural America and helping our country's economy recover. Agricultural exports alone reached a record $140.9 billion and supported nearly one million jobs in the United States last fiscal year. U.S. agricultural exports have set a new record every year for the past five years, totaling $619 billion between 2009 and 2013. They are projected to reach another record of $149.5 billion in fiscal year 2014.
"The agricultural sectors in both the U.S. and the EU stand to benefit from a strong T-TIP agreement," Vilsack said. "Reducing barriers to trade in the agreement will be especially beneficial to the small and medium-sized businesses that are the backbone of our respective economies."
In Luxembourg City, Vilsack will address the agriculture ministers from the 28 EU member states. Vilsack will emphasize to his European counterparts the importance of agriculture leaders' involvement in T-TIP negotiations and will urge them to share their expertise with trade negotiators to develop an ambitious T-TIP agriculture package that creates jobs and strengthens rural economies.
In Brussels, Vilsack will meet with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, and EU Parliament Agriculture Committee Chairman Paolo de Castro. He will also meet with Brussels-based U.S. business interests at the American Chamber of Commerce.
While in Paris, Vilsack will address French food and agricultural stakeholders, emphasizing that U.S. and French farmers share more commonalities than differences. He will also meet with Bernard Vallat, director of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), and Stéphane Le Foll, France's minister of agriculture.
Finally, Vilsack will travel to Ireland, where he will meet with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and accompany Coveney on a tour of Irish beef and dairy farms.
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