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Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Field Hearing on Trade in America: Agriculture and Critical Supply Chains – Kimball, MN

July 10, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“The Ways and Means Committee is in Kimball, Minnesota for our fifth hearing in local communities to hear directly from America’s farmers, ranchers, and mining communities about how America’s trade policies affect their daily lives and what Congress can do to make trade work better for their families.

“America is only six percent of the world’s landmass, and we make up just four percent of the global population, yet America’s farmers are so productive that they do more than anyone else to feed the world. Opening new markets for farmers and ranchers to export more products is critical to their survival.


“We are blessed not only with productive farmland, but also with a wealth of natural resources. Nowhere is that clearer than Minnesota, which has one of the nation’s largest cobalt reserves, like my home state of Missouri. Yet, while America currently produces no refined cobalt, China continues to expand its grip on this critical mineral, currently producing 72 percent of the world’s supply. In fact, an investment firm of which Hunter Biden, the President’s son, was a founding member, helped facilitate a Chinese company’s purchase of one of the world’s richest cobalt mines located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On top of that, the Biden Administration made it harder to produce important metals in America last year when it canceled two federal hard rock mineral leases to produce copper, nickel, and other precious metals here in Minnesota. Instead of reducing America’s near total dependence on China for practically every critical mineral, the Biden Administration has made policy choices that double down on this reliance.


“While shutting down critical mineral production here, the Biden Administration goes around Congress to sign dubious trade agreements that keep America dependent on foreign supply chains. Billions of American tax dollars are going to the Chinese Communist Party to build electric vehicles, while Americans are blocked from mining and refining the components required to build those same vehicles.


“Right now, farmers are being hurt because trading partners are not abiding by their commitments. Mexico’s unscientific ban on American corn, China failing to meet its commitment to purchase more American agricultural products, or Canada blocking American dairy, are just a few examples. All our trading partners must be held accountable. Non-tariff barriers exist against U.S. ag exports across the globe and only serve to harm the very farmers represented here today. The Ways and Means Committee will continue to urge the Biden Administration to enforce USMCA and the Phase One Agreement and tear down unfair trade barriers.


“American farmers are the best in the world and need new markets to sell their crops. The Biden Administration must build on USMCA and work with other countries to open new markets. We know, just to name a few, there are today barriers to market access for U.S. beef, pork, and poultry – including in the UK, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia. The EU continues to even try to own the market for generic cheeses like parmesan and feta by trying to limit access for U.S dairy products. Given a level playing field, I know that our farmers can compete and win, against any competitor.


“Fake trade deals that lack the force of law – like those the Biden Administration has been pursuing – set up American farmers and miners for financial ruin.


“The Constitution gives Congress authority over trade because we are the branch closest to the people who are impacted most by our trade policies. There is no substitute for enforceable, congressionally-approved trade agreements for the long-term prosperity of our farmers. Congress will continue to assert its authority over trade given to us in Article I of the Constitution, and we will use this authority to protect the interests of family farmers and ranchers on the world stage.


“I’m glad we are joined today by our witnesses who represent America’s farmers and ranchers – including dairy farmers and our host Schiefelbein Farms – as well as an expert in critical minerals.


“This Committee wants to hear from everyone here today as well. There will be notebooks passed out in the audience for everyone to share with us your concerns and ideas. We will enter those into the official hearing record and take those back with us to Washington as we consider how to protect farmers and secure our supply chains.


“I want to thank our witnesses for taking time away from your farms and work to share your stories of trade in America.”