(Posted Mon. Jun 18th, 2018)
If you have been following the roller coaster ride that is trade policy these days and are trying to decide how you feel about it, remember two things: Most of our customers live outside the U.S. and it’s impossible to find historic examples of tariffs or related trade wars that accomplished the intended goal.
NCGA Executive Vice President Jon Doggett told 50 corn farmer leaders attending a Trade School in St. Louis it is critical farmers engage in the ongoing trade issues and while they do, they should reference their history books. A good example of failed trade policy is President Carter’s Russian grain embargo in the 1980’s. The embargo removed them as a customer and ultimately caused Russia to increase their own grain production.
One positive development in the current trade arena is tariffs and ongoing trade rhetoric have raised the profile of trade as a key issue farmers care about. Maintaining and growing exports of U.S. agricultural goods has migrated to the top of farmers list of most critical issues affecting their survival. Doggett encouraged growers attending the NCGA and U.S. Grains Council sponsored event to take the next step and channel their anger and frustration in a positive way by engaging directly with Congressmen and Senators.
Those attending Trade School received extensive data on the economic and foreign policy implications of trade, discussed how to craft strong messages on the importance of trade, and learned how to manage a meeting with elected officials to get the best results.
Groups like NCGA can educate and update growers on issues like trade and set the stage to talk to elected officials, but farmers must close the deal by telling their personal story of how actions in Washington, DC effect their farm, their family and their community.
Based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate, for every $1 of food and agricultural exports, another $1.27 is generated in business activity. For instance, in 2017 U.S. food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico supported $55.9 billion in additional business activity.
If you want to get trade savvy and provide the data to back up why trade is critical to farmers and rural economies, a good place to start is Ag Exports Count.