Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that the U.S. is at risk of losing its position as the pre-eminent exporter of corn, soybeans and other commodities unless Congress steps up its investment in the country's aging infrastructure and moves quickly to pass a farm bill, DesMoinesRegister.com reports.
"We're in a global marketplace and whatever advantages we have can disappear pretty quickly because other countries have extraordinary opportunities," Vilsack said in an interview from Brazil, where he is meeting with agricultural officials during a weeklong trip. "If our Congress ... can't pass a farm bill, the message that sends to the rest of the world is we can be caught."
The U.S. is the world's largest agricultural exporter, with shipments this fiscal year expected to reach a record $139.5 billion.
Vilsack said that while the U.S. has long had the upper hand compared with other countries such as Brazil because of its ability to ship quickly and efficiently by rail, road and water, competitors are increasing their investment in their infrastructure.