Farmers and Foreign Policy
Jun 11, 2017
Farmers usually don't spend a lot of time and thought on foreign policy. But the ongoing series of events involving leaders and governments of other nations has begun to capture slightly more of our attention than usual.
We have been very successful exporting our ag production to other countries. Even with our growing population, farmers can produce far more of many commodities for than the domestic market can use. From cotton to cattle, producers no longer ignore the growing portion of our output that leaves our borders.
International trade has become more complicated than just stand alone agreements to buy one specific product. Previous trade negotiations have shown that while nations overall may come out ahead, results for specific industries vary according to political and diplomatic tradeoffs.
It is not paranoid for farmers to be nervous about possible changes in our trade agreements. Frankly ag has been very fortunate during my career to see expanding opportunities to sell overseas. Not only is there is no guarantee that will continue to improve, it could even diminish in the future. Currently the emphasis on manufacturing jobs seems to be paramount in our trade goals.
Escalating friction with longtime allies, and insistence on zero-sum trade totals with individual countries are additional complicating factors. Clinging to an outdated estimate of our power to dictate trade negotiation outcomes could prove the most damaging.
Nations are not individuals and expecting the same tactics that work in a real estate office between two people to be productive in complicated, multi-faceted international commerce is illogical.
So if you are uneasy about the direction our trade policy is headed, it may be because you're paying attention.