Michigan ag leaders want more trade and less aid

Michigan agriculture is extremely diverse.

Ag producers in Michigan look to international trade for a variety of their output, from ethanol to dry beans.

“In Michigan, about every third row that you see planted ends up in some export market. If you expand that to look at things nationally, about 40 percent of our annual production ends up in a export market some place on the planet,” said Joe Cramer, Executive Director of the Michigan Bean Commission.

Pork is also a big export for the states. Mary Kelpinski, the CEO of Michigan Pork Producers Association, says that they export about 25 percent of the pork they produce.

However, the industry faces barriers.

“Trade policies in the past few years have hurt us by not allowing us to compete in this market like other countries have been,” said Jose Jimenez with Zeeland Farm Services Inc..

Prices have suffered.

“We certainly depend on exports to bring stability to our markets,” Cramer adds.

“The message today is clear. We have to be able to trade,” Chuck Lippstreu, the president of Michigan Agri-Business Association, sais. “We have to be able to export. We need stability and predictability in international markets, because trade is absolutely central to the success of our Michigan agricultural industry.”

Industry leaders say they do not want more aid, but need more trade.

“We need to know what’s coming in the market place, we need to be able to plan, we need to be able to operate in a stable market environment,” Lippstreu said. “Listen to the voices of rural America and agriculture that called for predictable and open trade for the last several years.”