In the News

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., are once again pairing up on a proposal, this time to lower trade barriers on American agriculture.

Towards the end of last week, Dunn and Panetta unveiled the “Growing American Food Exports Act” which updates the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 to ensure the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service program is modernized to include more opportunities to export engineered agriculture

“Approximately one third of all U.S. agricultural exports, roughly $40 billion, are produced with or contain products of genetic engineering,” Dunn’s office noted. “These products face significant regulatory barriers in overseas markets and currently there is no single international standard-setting body to help normalize trade.

Dunn’s and Panetta’s proposal would expand trade by “advancing trade-facilitating solutions to inadvertent Low-Level Presence (LLP) of genetically engineered products approved in the United States, but not in foreign markets" and “promoting trade- and innovation-friendly policies globally for emerging technologies" by “building international coalitions for global acceptance of U.S. crops and predictable, science-based regulations.”

The freshman Republican, who sits on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, made the case for his bill on Thursday.

“In North Florida, agriculture is vital to the economy, and our farmers are using new technologies to grow food that is more resistant to pests and disease, require less water, and cost families less at the grocery store,” Dunn said. “Unfortunately, government regulations abroad often lag behind innovation on American farms, which prevents local farmers from selling their abundance to America’s trading partners.

“Removing these trade barriers and strengthening relations with our global partners will level the playing field for North Florida’s agricultural products,” Dunn added. “This legislation is a step in the right direction for improving our export economy and supporting innovation in the agricultural industry.”

"The central coast of California is a national leader in agriculture research and innovation. From USDA's Agriculture Research Service station in Salinas to our local colleges and universities, our researchers are constantly improving the way that our food is being grown through technological advancements," said Panetta. "The bill I introduced with Congressman Neal Dunn authorizes USDA to promote these emerging agriculture technologies abroad and ensure that trade regulations are based on sound science. This will increase our agricultural exports ensuring that U.S. producers are not subject to unnecessary barriers in trade."

This is not the first time Dunn and Panetta have worked together. Back in the fall, they led efforts to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to team up to work on advancing biotechnology, rounding up almost 80 fellow members of the House to sign a letter to USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on the matter.