Friday, October 13, 2017
Farmers for Free Trade will aim to educate the public, Capitol Hill and the administration about the importance of trade to agriculture, says AFBF president.
The Farmers for Free Trade campaign will eventually include all 50 states but will begin in states that produce commodities that will be impacted most. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)
By Deana Stroisch
American Farm Bureau Federation has joined Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan campaign intended to rebuild local support for trade in the United States.
With 95 percent of the world’s population located outside of the United States, Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, said: “We have to be a player in the trade arena so that we can move our products out of our country and help feed the world.”
Duvall and organizers of the trade campaign participated in a telephone news conference Tuesday – the day before the fourth round of negotiations begins on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Duvall stressed the importance of educating the public, Capitol Hill and the administration about the importance of trade to agriculture.
“The rural community depends on a strong ag economy, where 20 percent of the farm income that comes back to the farm comes from foreign trade,” Duvall said. “And one out of every three acres that is planted is exported across our shores.”
Sara Lilygren, president of the board for Farmers for Free Trade, said the state-level campaign will help make sure the public knows what’s at stake during trade renegotiations. The effort will eventually include all 50 states but will begin in states that have “major commodities impacted,” such as Washington, Kansas and Kentucky.
“Our mission at Farmers for Free Trade is to make sure the same folks who put food on the table are at the table when we set trade policy for the U.S.,” she said.
Max Baucus, former U.S. senator and U.S. ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, serves as co-chair of the Farmers for Free Trade campaign.
He said the campaign will also help counter some of the anti-trade messages happening inside the U.S.
“Those anti-trade messages are just flat simply wrong. We do need trade. We need more trade, not less. Trade helps America,” he said.
He pointed to other countries, such as China, Japan and Australia that continue to negotiate trade deals.
“We, Americans, are not taking advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “In fact, we’re going the wrong direction.”
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.
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