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On Our Plate: An Uncertain Season for U.S. Agricultural Trade
This is an uncertain season for farmers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet due to low prices for their products and an abundance of supply. Most of the food and agricultural goods produced in the U.S. are exported, so farmers rely on access to global markets for their livelihoods. But trade has become a political “hot-button” issue and its benefits, particularly in agriculture, are not well understood.
In recent weeks, the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada has been thrown into doubt. Conversations about NAFTA tend to focus on the loss of jobs in the manufacturing or industrial materials sectors, while overlooking the phenomenal success of U.S. agricultural trade with Mexico and Canada and the benefits to U.S. farmers and rural economies.
In 2014, U.S. food and agricultural exports reached a record $150 billion, supporting more than 1 million American jobs. Exports grew by an average of 8 percent annually from 2000 to 2014, while imports increased by 7.8 percent. As a result, the U.S. agricultural trade surplus widened to $38.8 billion in 2014.
One of GHI’s five policy priorities is to Expand Regional and Global Agricultural Trade and Harmonize Standards. In addition to the advantages for U.S. farmers and consumers, trade agreements generate environmental benefits by moving products from where they can be produced most efficiently and sustainably to markets around the world.
GHI’s 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) discussed the importance of agricultural trade to the U.S. economy and the need to invest in infrastructure to improve efficiency (pages 48-49).
The 2016 GAP Report® examines the importance of trade facilitation agreements (pages 60-65) which help countries improve the efficiency of their trading systems and increase opportunities for exporting and importing products.
For more on U.S. agricultural trade and the future of NAFTA, see the articles below.
CNBC-Video, March 30, 2017
DTN Washington Insider, The Progressive Farmer, April 27, 2017
Illinois News Network, April 9, 2017
Quartz.com, April 26, 2017
TheConversation.com, April 26, 2017