There is no doubt trade is important to American agriculture. The United States is the largest agricultural exporter in the world, with exports representing $138 billion in 2017. In a webinar presentation hosted by the University of Maryland Extension, Luis Ribera said that exports account for about a third of the country’s farm income.
Trade certainly influences dairy product prices, but the Texas A&M professor and extension economist shared that there are other crops produced in the United States that heavily rely on trade.
Take cotton, for instance. In 2016, 86.9 percent of cotton grown in the United States was sold internationally. For rice, it was 52 percent, for sorghum, 50.1 percent was sold overseas. While corn is farther down the list, at 15.1 percent, American corn represents half of the corn traded on the world market.
Ribera shared that the United States holds close to one-fourth (24.32 percent) of all the money in the world. He said that makes us a very appealing customer to other nations.
“Any country would like to get into the U.S. market,” he said. “That’s tremendous bargaining power for us.”
On the flip side, Ribera pointed out that we imported $121 billion in agricultural products last year, meaning that trade really is a two way street for us. “Both exports and imports generate positive economic impacts,” he said.
There are certain foods we would simply have to live without if it wasn’t for trade. All of the coffee and limes in this country – 100 percent – are imported. So are 99.8 percent of our bananas, 58.1 percent of our orange juice, and 51 percent of our tomatoes.
“We are dependent on overseas markets to sell product, but we import quite a bit of product as well,” Ribera said.