Senator Collins Urges Secretary of Agriculture to Help Expand Foreign Markets for Maine’s Lobster, Agriculture Industries

A recent trade agreement between Canada and the European Union puts U.S. lobster at a significant disadvantage

Collins: “The lobsters don’t stop…when they reach Canadian waters and stay on the American side of the boundaries.”

 

Secretary Perdue says he is having “candid and frank discussions” with the EU on making it easier to export U.S. food products to Europe

 

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A at the Appropriations Subcommittee hearing

Note to assignment editors and news directors: Click HERE for high-quality video of Senator Collins’ Q&A at the Appropriations Subcommittee hearing

 

Washington, D.C.—At a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins questioned U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on his department’s efforts to facilitate the export of food produced by American fishermen and farmers. 

 

Senator Collins emphasized the importance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP), which has been critical to the success of Maine farmers and fishermen as they work to find new markets and remain competitive in the global marketplace.  Through MAP, the USDA partners with U.S. agricultural trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas promotional activities that help build markets for American agricultural products.  Senator Collins has introduced a bill to double the funding for this important program.

 

“The [Market Access Program] has allowed our producers to greatly expand their markets and create more jobs at home by facilitating the promotion and sale of such iconic Maine products as wild blueberries in the Middle East, maple syrup in Central Africa, and shellfish in the Far East,” said Senator Collins.  She went on to caution that “other nations are moving forward on new trade agreements, and I’m concerned that is leaving American producers at a disadvantage.”

 

Senator Collins singled out the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) recently reached between the European Union and Canada, which has reduced tariffs to zero on live Canadian lobsters and will eliminate tariffs over a few years on frozen and processed Canadian lobsters.

 

“Maine lobstermen are put at a huge disadvantage by [CETA],” Senator Collins continued.  “The lobsters don’t stop…when they reach Canadian waters and stay on the American side of the boundaries.  Prior to implementation of this new agreement between Canada and the European Union, Maine lobster dealers were successfully using the Market Access Program funds to find new buyers overseas.”

 

Secretary Perdue responded by expressing his support for the MAP program, noting that it encourages substantial private investment and benefits domestic producers.  He also spoke about the work he is doing to ensure American farmers and fishermen, including lobstermen, are not harmed by CETA.

 

“We are having direct discussions through Secretary Ross of Commence…over this specific seafood issue there as well and the new CETA arrangement, which puts us at a huge disadvantage not only on our seafood but other issues at well,” said Secretary Perdue.  “We are having direct discussions, candid and frank discussions with the EU about those agreements.”