A coalition of 62 leading U.S. agriculture stakeholders are urging Congress to vote against any resolution that would end United States membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

September 23, 2020

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
U.S. Trade Representative
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

The undersigned organizations appreciate the value and benefits of the United States involvement in the World Trade Organization (WTO). We support effective reform in this critical international body to enhance the ability of American agriculture to access foreign markets.

There is no doubt that the Uruguay Round, along with many other rounds, provided a more stable world trading environment for U.S. agriculture.

In the WTO’s first two decades overall trade in goods has nearly quadrupled, while WTO members’ import tariffs have declined by an average of 15 percent. Over half of world trade is now tariff-free. The WTO affords U.S. agriculture producers and exporters most-favored nation (MFN) treatment in 163 countries, representing over 80 percent of the global economy. The WTO provides rules to guard against arbitrary use of technical regulations or standards to block imports, such as actions associated with sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures that lack a clear basis in science and are protectionist in intent.

With more than twenty percent of overall agricultural production in the United States destined for foreign markets, U.S. agriculture is heavily dependent on exports. The existing WTO rules and the day-to-day work of its committees and secretariat to provide transparency and accountability from its Members remains critical to future export growth, for America’s farmers and ranchers, and the millions of American jobs – most of them off-the-farm – that are linked to and dependent upon U.S. agriculture.

While the WTO has been beneficial for U.S. agriculture, its rules have not kept pace with changes in the global economy, and improvement is needed to hold members accountable and improve the organizations’ governance. We appreciate and support efforts to provide needed reforms.

The present transition in WTO leadership is strongly linked to the success of WTO reform, and the opportunity to reinvigorate its negotiating function. Choosing a Director General with the ability to facilitate these reforms should be an overriding consideration in the selection of the next WTO Director General. We note other essential traits and leadership abilities critical to the evolution and success of the WTO moving forward:  

  • Proactive leadership of the WTO and advocate for rules-based trading system;
  • Vision for WTO reform and resiliency in the future;
  • Adept at navigating across disparate member country positions and demonstrated ability to build coalitions;
  • Balance of political and management experience and acumen;
  • Ability to explore creative solutions and flexible thinking; and
  • An appreciation of the complexities of agriculture and food trade structures and global supply chains.

Today’s economic adversity in rural America underscores the importance of constructive engagement in needed WTO reform. The implementation of U.S. supported agreements through the WTO remains necessary to achieve progress on a wide variety of international agricultural trade concerns. American agriculture’s future continues to lie in expanding access to foreign markets and eliminating barriers to our exports. 

Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken, and that the WTO will continue to play an important and effective role in economic development of the United States and our trading partners. As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential as well.


American Dairy Products Institute
Elmhurst, IL

American Farm Bureau
Washington, DC

American Feed Industry Association
Arlington, VA

American Potato Trade Alliance
Seattle, WA

American Seed Trade Association
Alexandria, VA

American Soybean Association
Washington, DC

Animal Health Institute
Washington, DC

Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Washington, DC

BelGioioso Cheese, Inc.
Green Bay, WI

Biotechnology Innovation Organization
Washington, DC

Wayzata, MN

Commercial Creamery Co
Spokane, WA

Corn Refiners Association
Washington, DC

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
Green Bay, WI

Farmers for Free Trade
Sheridan, WY

FMI – The Food Industry Association
Arlington, VA

Foremost Farms USA
Baraboo, WI

Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
Nogales, AZ

Hop Growers of America
Yakima, WA

International Dairy Foods Association
Washington, DC

International Ingredient Corporation
Fenton, MO

KCoe Isom, LLP
Salina, KS

Leather & Hide Council of America
Washington, DC

National Aquaculture Association
Tallahassee, FL

National Association of Egg Farmers
Oaks, PA

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
Arlington, VA

National Association of Wheat Growers
Washington, DC

National Barley Growers Association
Washington, DC

National Confectioners Association
Washington, DC

National Corn Growers Association
Washington, DC

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Washington, DC

National Grain and Feed Association
Arlington, VA

National Milk Producers Federation
Arlington, VA

National Oilseed Processors Association
Washington, DC

National Pasta Association
Washington, DC

National Potato Council
Washington, DC

National Retail Federation
Washington, DC

National Sunflower Association
Mandan, ND

National Turkey Federation
Washington, DC

Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Lincoln, NE

North American Export Grain Association
Arlington, VA

North American Meat Institute
Washington, DC

North American Millers’ Association
Arlington, VA

North American Renderers Association
Alexandria, VA

Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance
Albany, NY

Northwest Horticultural Council
Yakima, WA

Produce Marketing Association
Newark, DE

Roquette America, Inc.
Geneva, IL

Sartori Company
Plymouth, WI

Sweetener Users Association
Bethesda, MD

Washington, DC

The Hershey Company
Washington, DC

U.S. Apple Association
Falls Church, VA

U.S. Canola Association
Washington, DC

U.S. Dairy Export Council
Arlington, VA

U.S. Wheat Associates
Arlington, VA

United Fresh Produce Association
Washington, DC

US Dry Bean Council
Portland, OR

USA Rice Federation
Arlington, VA

Washington, DC

World Perspectives, Inc.
Arlington, VA


Honorable Chuck Grassley, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Honorable Ron Wyden, Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee
Honorable Richard Neal, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee
Honorable Kevin Brady, Ranking Member, House Ways and Means Committee
Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
Honorable Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
Honorable Collin Peterson, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee
Honorable K. Michael Conaway, Ranking Member, House Agriculture Committee