WASHINGTON, D.C – This week, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Boozman (R-AR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) in introducing the Prioritizing Offensive Agricultural Disputes and Enforcement Act to protect U.S. agriculture while ensuring that the food which appears on U.S. store shelves meets U.S. health standards.
The Prioritizing Offensive Agricultural Disputes and Enforcement Act establishes a joint task force on agricultural trade enforcement led by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The task force will proactively monitor upcoming foreign subsidies, rather than waiting to react after subsidies are in place and bring them to the attention of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Additionally, the bill will direct actions on countries that unfairly subsidize their producers and then flood the market with their products, such as India.
“Alabama’s shrimp industry can out-compete anyone in the world—as long as the rules are fair,” Coach Tuberville said. “But right now, the rules aren’t fair, and our fisherman are suffering because of other countries who cheat at their trade obligations. We can’t let that continue. This legislation would put a watchdog on agricultural trade to ensure that other countries play by the rules. That will let our fishermen thrive more than ever.”
During recent Farm Bill listening sessions throughout Alabama and the Southeast, Coach Tuberville heard the concerns of farmers and producers who are struggling in Joe Biden’s economy. One of the concerns he heard was regarding Indian shrimp and rice being dumped on the U.S. market, driving down prices, and driving down income for American fishermen.
Establishing a USDA-USTR task force urges USTR to hold bad actors, like India, accountable for agricultural WTO violations and requires regular reporting to Congress and industry on those efforts.
Since 2005, the U.S. has imposed antidumping duties and conducted reviews of those duties on shrimp. These antidumping duties were placed on foreign shrimp suppliers as a result of unfair trade practices. These practices flooded the U.S. shrimp market with foreign frozen warmwater shrimp, deteriorating the per-pound price from $6.50 in 1980 to under $1.00 today. The decline in shrimp prices has driven domestic harvesters out of business and allowed foreign entities to control this U.S. market. India is the world’s top shrimp exporter, accounting for roughly 40 percent of U.S. shrimp imports, largely due to massive subsidies from the Indian government.
Alabama shrimp farmers produce approximately 200,000 to 300,000 pounds of shrimp annually. In 2020, Commercial Fishing Operations landed approximately 25.3 million pounds of wild shrimp in Alabama. In 2021, Commercial Shrimp Landings in Alabama totaled $69.6 million in value.
As Alabama’s voice on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Coach Tuberville is committed to supporting Alabama’s farmers and producers.
Two weeks ago, Senator Tuberville introduced the Farmers’ Market Expansion Act to add tree nuts, including pecans, to USDA’s Seniors’ Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This would provide a new market for pecan producers and allow seniors increased access to nutritious, locally-sourced pecan products.
In July 2023, Senator Tuberville introduced two pieces of legislation—the Farm Board Act and the Mid-South Oilseed Double Cropping Study Act of 2023—to improve opportunities and representation for Alabama’s agriculture community.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.