US Grains Council Stresses Importance of Trade to Agriculture as Trump Administration Strikes DealsMon, 06 Mar 2017 12:56:05 CST
Last week, during the opening of the 2017 Commodity Classic tradeshow in San Antonio, President and CEO of the US Grains Council Tom Sleight took a moment to speak to Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about many of the obstacles and opportunities taking shape in global trade policy since the ascension of the Trump Administration. According to Sleight, many situations affecting trade policy around the world are currently in flux leaving a lot of unanswered questions as to what will come on the road ahead. You can hear the conversation that Horn had with Sleight by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
“We always like to make sure as we’re talking to folks right now, very clearly about the importance of trade to agriculture,” Sleight said. “95.7 percent of the world’s population lives outside of our borders, and so if you want to be growing business for people that eat food, you need to have international trade.”
Sleight says that there are major developments happening around the world, particularly in both China and Mexico currently, in which the USGC is heavily involved. For instance, he says that as the Trump Administration alludes to potentially taking action to renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, tensions are on the rise with our trade partners South of the border. However, Sleight implies that there is always room for improvement and believes President Trump and his team will be able to reestablish an amicable trade alliance.
“We talk to our customers in Mexico, and you know they’re a little bit chilly right now, they’re frosty, the attitude is. That concerns us,” he said. “Mexico last year became the number one export market for US corn. So yeah, it kind of concerns us, but I think the administration recognizes the value of sells, the values of trade to the industry. Hopefully we can get those things smoothed out and maybe make some surgical changes to NAFTA. Any trade agreement can be improved and so we’re hoping that’s how things will play out.”
As these situations continue to mature, Sleight reports that other opportunities are on the rise in other arenas. Obviously, the Farm Bill presents a great opportunity to progress the interests of the USGC constituents but also, opportunities specifically in ethanol production across the globe are also cropping up.
“We’re focused on four major markets Japan, Mexico, India and China,” Sleight reported. “It’s an effort we’re doing with Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, the US Grains Council - working together to identify the markets, identify the right strategies for those markets and bringing those markets into being good customers for US ethanol.”
While the new administration continues to settle in, filling vacancies within the various offices and agencies of the government, Sleight asserts that he and the USGC staff is working with leaders in Washington to assure that proper attention is paid to the importance of these developing matters in trade, which he claims is becoming increasingly important to the financial and economic health of the industry and the country as a whole.
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