February 27, 2024

Leaders, farmers talk trade

WASHINGTON — Exports are critical for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Non-profit Farmers for Free Trade hosted a webinar for leaders and farmers to discuss trade issues.

“Exports account for 20% of farm revenue in the U.S. and support over 1 million jobs.” said Maria Zieba, assistant vice president of international affairs at National Pork Producers Council.

“In the U.S. hog sector, we export over 25% of our production to over 100 countries, totaling over $8 billion pork exports in 2021. That added $61 to the average value of each hog marketed in 2021.

“Exports are also important because they create stability and certainty for food and ag producers. Unfortunately, the tariffs and the trade wars created volatility and uncertainty at a time when our food and supply chains were stretched thin. That’s really the last thing we needed.”

Here are a few takeaways from the event.

“Exports directly impact my bottom line. After 2018 when the tariffs were put into place, one of the things we saw was an immediate drop in price. Normally it’s a supply and demand market. But when there’s outside forces working on that market, in this case tariffs, we saw that offset. That went directly to our bottom line. In Iowa, roughly 60% of our soybean crop is exported. On the upside, we did find new buyers. But we left the door open to our competitors.”

Dave Walton, farmer

Wilton, Iowa

“We gave other countries a competitive edge for the period that the trade war was most intense and allowed them to improve their markets and favor with other countries. That’s something we don’t get back overnight. Market share is a concern for me going forward.”

Brent Bible, farmer

Lafayette, Indiana

“When farmers, food producers and ag equipment manufacturers have stability and certainty, it means they can invest and grow their operations. This creates jobs and allows them to focus on all the other ways they can help our country. For example, by capturing carbon and diversifying our food supply chains.”

Maria Zieba, assistant vice president of international affairs

National Pork Producers Council

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor