FFT: US Farmers Need New Markets

FFT: US Farmers Need New Markets

Farmers for Free Trade held a virtual roundtable with officials from different segments of agriculture and the food supply chain to talk about trade and the need for new trade agreements. While the Biden Administration spent time evaluating current trade agreements, different ag groups are pushing the White House to open up new trade opportunities. Howard “A.V.” Roth is the immediate past president of the National Pork Producer’s Council. He says it’s time to find new opportunities for America’s ag commodities.


“It is imperative that the administration focus on expanding markets for U.S. agriculture and pork around the world. The biggest export opportunity for our industry lies in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, after years of work, the Philippines government unilaterally lowered their tariffs on pork to combat food price inflation. Since then, U.S. pork exports have increased by over 150 percent in the first seven months of the year. These markets access victories are wonderful for the industry and U.S. workers, but we also should focus on comprehensive market access packages, like those operative trade agreements like the CPTPP.”

Doug Chapin is a dairy farmer from Michigan who also chairs the Michigan Milk Producers Association. He says America hasn’t generated any new trade agreements for several years.

“Aside from the USMCA update to NAFTA, the last genuinely new free trade agreement we had enacted took effect nearly a decade ago from negotiations that happened much earlier. We seem to be either evaluating, or at times, negotiating deals but not implementing new comprehensive trade agreements that eliminate tariffs on our exports. Just as I have continued in the family business, I would love to have the opportunity to pass the operation along to my children. However, for continued growth and prosperity and for future generations to continue milking, we need new markets that come with new trade agreements.”

Deb Gangwish is a farmer from Nebraska. She sees firsthand as a member of the NCGA’s Corn Board that trade doesn’t just improve a farmer’s bottom line. It’s beneficial for all of rural America.

“It’s interesting to note that in 2018, there was an economic analysis run by IHS Market that talked about jobs, and they mentioned for every one job directly involved in the export of grain and grain products, we have an additional 3.2 jobs that are indirectly supported elsewhere in the U.S. economy: that’s powerful. And we see that on our farm and in rural America: it can keep us vibrant. More than 20 percent of our domestic corn crop is exported annually when we account for corn and the value-added products such as ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles, or DDGs. For growers like me in Nebraska and across the U.S., trade is responsible for 33 percent of a corn farmers income, that’s a lot.”

Farmers for Free Trade is concerned that competitors are gaining an advantage over the U.S. in important markets, including Southeast Asia.