Importance of agricultural trade

U.S. agricultural producers are the most efficient in the world and produce more than our country needs which means they have extra product to sell. Other countries need that product, hence the need for agricultural trade on both sides. Add to that the benefits to U.S. consumers and it’s easy to see the importance of having fair trade agreements. Louis Ribera is a Professor and Director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M.

“Just to put the numbers in context, about a third of the U.S. farm income comes from our agricultural exports. So that puts it in perspective because just think about what would happen if you got a third cut of your salary, It would hurt, pretty hard.”

Ribera says that agricultural trade also impacts consumers.

“We also have year round supply of anything you can think of, and we sometimes take that for granted. That we can go to an H.E.B., many of them are open twenty-four hours, and you can get anything you want, regardless of the time, or also what month of the year it is.”

Ribera points out that trade is responsible for the lifestyle that allows consumers to ignore different seasons.

“We’re the largest exporter in the world, about one hundred thirty-five billion dollars we export, and we import about one hundred fifteen billion in products, agricultural products.”

Ribera says that without trade agreements, things would be different for consumers.

“One thing for sure is that we’re going to spend a whole lot more on food. Right now we only spend about six point three percent. If we start having tariffs on the products that we import and other countries are putting tariffs on what we export, then food is going to become more expensive. Period. It has to. It’s an economic decision.”

Ribera is optimistic that the agricultural part of trade agreements like NAFTA will survive in some form.

“I just look at the numbers, without politics, without any bias, just look at the numbers and when you look at the benefits for all three countries it’s positive, any way you want to put it.”