Strengthening the relationship between trade and the farm economy

Food and agriculture leaders have released a new report highlighting the relationship between trade and the health of the farm economy.

The “Ag Talks Town Hall” series featured five town halls in five different states to identify the obstacles that hinder trade and potential policy solutions.

The result is a 41 page report.

Kevin Ross, National Corn Growers Association Chairman, says that negotiators should focus on how agriculture commodities can solve challenges in other markets, like southeast Asian countries.

According to Ross, “Ethanol will be a big key for them. We see many of these air quality issues as a big problem in those areas and their folks recognize that, and I think it’s a key thing for us to look at in the future.”

For the dairy industry, addressing non-tariff barriers in Europe is a priority.

“The geographical indicators that are taking away the rights of consumers and producers to use food names, but we also have big principle issues, like Farm to Fork from the European Union,” National Milk Producers Federation’s Jamie Castaneda states. “We need to set agricultural policy around the world. We need to actually have allies, we need to actually connect, and we need to actually be on the offensive.”

Chris Hoffman, the National Pork Board’s “Farmer of the Year”, serves as an ambassador for the industry and says that it is important to have open dialogues with the retailers who purchase, ship, and sell ag products.

“There is a huge gap of disconnect from what we do on the farm, to what they think we do on the farm, so that conversation really needs to continue. We have to work harder at that,” Hoffman notes.

The group also addresses domestic issues in the report.

“Making sure we advocate for increased infrastructure whether it be roads, railways, or waterways, and now broadband, but also adequate workforce needs, and food safety. Anything that could complicate the opportunity for a new trade agreement, we want to mitigate that as well and that includes the prevention of animal diseases into the North American continent,” Kentucky Commissioner Ryan Quarles adds.

Quarles also says that enforcement should be an important part of any trade agreement, as countries work to fix any technical issues that arise during implementation.