Trade puts Missouri Agriculture on the World's dinner tables

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Jim Stuever is a corn and cotton farmer from Dexter, Mo. He currently serves on the U.S. Grains Council board of directors and ex-officio member of the Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.

While presidential candidates are busy one-upping each another with anti-trade rhetoric, millions of families on the other side of the world are gathering around dinner tables featuring meat, eggs, dairy and grains brought to them by America's farmers.

As the global middle class grows, the demand for affordable protein means the world will need 60 percent more animal-sourced foods. Couple that with 95 percent of the world's consumers being outside of the U.S. and it is easy to see why trade is important to rural America. Corn growers stand ready to meet this challenge and share our bountiful products with the world. So why then are our presidential candidates trying to sideline us?

Trade is good for America, especially our farm economy. With farm income down 38 percent in 2015 from the previous year, we have to find more markets for our corn crop. One out of every three rows of crops is grown for exports. Southeast Missouri is uniquely positioned with our access to the Mississippi River.

For trade to work we need fair access to global customers. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries, is an opportunity for us to do even more. TPP countries represent 40 percent of the global economy, and this region continues to grow faster than the rest of the world.

Today, regional and bilateral trade agreements that exclude the United States, along with high tariffs and other trade barriers, have put American farmers at a disadvantage. For example, while TPP sits on the sidelines in Congress, Australia is gaining more access to Japan's beef market. With a level playing field provided by TPP, United States beef will regain this lost market share. This is important to a grain farmer like myself who knows red meat exports are beneficial to corn demand.

Every day, Missouri farmers are working hard to put food on tables around the world and right here at home. TPP will help grow the agriculture industry, create jobs and strengthen our local economies. Let's not let trade barriers-or empty campaign rhetoric-stand in our way.