I am constantly amazed by how much information farmers must keep in their heads, from agronomics to economics, mechanics to math. When I was working on this magazine’s global trade story, I wondered whether the mountain of information I was working with would obscure what I think is an important Big Picture to consider.
No country in the world has an agriculture sector that can match ours. That’s just a fact. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to visit farmers and farming operations in South America, the European Union and Australia. More importantly, I’ve been able to work directly with dozens of U.S. farmers who have visited many more places and have seen many more farms first-hand, and they’ve told me over and over how humbling and heartening it has been for them to witness our leadership in this way.
So, to me at least, it’s not surprising U.S. farmers and ranchers produce much more than we need here in our country, or even that our neighbors need in Canada and Mexico. As time goes on, this will just intensify: we adapt new management practices that raise yield more every year, just about; we invest in technology that makes us more and more efficient, and will only continue to do so in the years ahead. And, as John Dillard points out, U.S. consumers are only 5% of the world’s population. We need a whole lot more consumers in other places to buy what we produce or, as sure as the rules of gravity, prices will always fall.
But it’s not a simple issue. As soon as we celebrate lower tariffs on our own products, we have to allow the same for others’ coming into the U.S. That means more competition for American-made goods and possible pressure on our manufacturing sector.
What’s the answer? I surely don’t know. But I do know it’s not a simple one. And it will take all of us, working together, to figure it out.
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Nov. 7–9, Las Vegas, Nev.
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Nov. 30–Dec. 2, Chicago, Ill.
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Dec. 9–10, Kansas City, Mo.
Top Producer Seminar
Jan. 24–27, 2017, Chicago, Ill.
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July 20–21, 2017, Nashville, Tenn.