Mar 04, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, USA Rice hosted longtime trade policy expert, Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, on an educational ‘Trade Policy 101’ webinar for members of the rice industry. More than 75 USA Rice members participated in the live event but the webinar also was recorded and will be available to stream from the USA Rice website.
Bomer Lauritsen’s presentation focused on the importance of trade to agriculture and covered the roles of federal agencies versus Congress versus private sector feedback in establishing trade policy, negotiations, and enforcement. Because of the many factors and influences involved, negotiating agricultural market access with international partners is riddled with challenges.
“Agriculture is always heavily protected in negotiations because countries want to protect their farmers, but rice in particular has its share of sensitivity, primarily because there are rice farmers in so many markets and so many cultures,” said Bomer Lauritsen.
The webinar was a primer on U.S. trade policy. “With more than 50 percent of our U.S. rice crop exported every year, trade is vital to the industry,” said Bobby Hanks, Louisiana rice miller and chair of both USA Rice and the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee. “A lot of the magic of trade policy happens behind the scenes and so we appreciate Sharon explaining the nuances and giving us a peek behind the curtain.”
“We were fortunate to have the opportunity for one-on-one access with someone who has as much insight and historical information about trade policy as Sharon and we appreciated her answering the many questions from webinar participants,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “As we enter a new administration with new trade policy objectives, we thought it would benefit our members to hear from someone recognized as an expert on all things trade and who can give an insiders’ view of how the complex world of trade negotiations works.”
Bomer Lauritsen was a recipient of the USA Rice Industry Award in 2020 for her market access contributions to the industry prior to her retirement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last spring. She was the highest-ranking career agricultural negotiator at USTR and spent a collective 16 years within the agency, also with stints at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Congress, and ag trade associations over a 35-year career. Since her retirement in 2020, she founded AgTrade Strategies, a Washington-based private sector agricultural trade consulting firm.