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Source: Nat'l Pork Producers Council news release

NPPC this week commended Robert Lighthizer, President Trump's nominee for ambassador of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, for committing to place high importance on agricultural trade. Lighthizer Wednesday appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, telling the panel, "I assure you, we will prioritize agriculture."

That's welcome news for U.S. pork producers, whose No. 1 priority is access to international markets. At NPPC's recent annual meeting, producers expressed concern about disruptions in pork exports, particularly to Mexico in light of the Trump administration's desire to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Several lawmakers on the committee expressed concern about reopening NAFTA, but Lighthizer, who was deputy USTR in the Reagan administration, seemed to allay those fears. "We have to be careful not to lose what we gained," he told the committee.

He also addressed another worry of the U.S. pork industry: lost market share in the Asia-Pacific region, following the administration's withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "I think opening up more markets for agricultural sales is a priority for us," said Lighthizer, who told the committee that Japan would be a top target for increasing market access.

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