> The Zipline

Fair Ag Trade Matters to Rural America



Zippy Duvall


photo credit: iStockPhoto

August recess is here, and Capitol Hill will soon be deserted as representatives and senators flock back home for the rest of this summer. The end-of-summer recess has historically been an important time for representatives and senators to meet with constituents and hear about the impact of policies and decisions coming out of Washington. This year will be no exception, and many of these visits will double as campaign stops with the November election just around the corner. The soil of America’s heartland is primed for grassroots advocacy, and as you think about the questions you want answered by your representatives at the next town hall or county fair forum, we expect trade will be high on the list for many of you.

It’s certainly high on our list at the American Farm Bureau and has been for a while. The team here in Washington has been busy advocating for more free markets and fair trade for agriculture, as well as carefully analyzing the impact of the recent trade war. We have been clear in sharing our concerns with Congress and the Administration, and when you look at the Voice of Agriculture website, you can see we have been far from silent on the topic of trade this year. I invite you to take a look at Market Intel analysis from our team of economists, op-eds from Farm Bureau members, and major news coverage of Farm Bureau leaders and staff speaking out on the issue, by visiting our trade content page. We will also be launching a special resource page on the website soon to provide you with a full set of tools—from social media posts to talking points to use at those town halls and other meetings―to advocate for ag trade.

Now is the time for you to share your stories of how important trade is to your farm.

While no one wants to be the target of a trade war, I have been encouraged at how these tough times have rallied support for farm country. This Administration is one of the most ag-forward we have seen in many years now, and I believe that is a credit to all of us coming together and speaking with one voice on the issues that matter to our farms and livelihoods. The directive the President has given Secretary Perdue to help farmers weather this storm and the attention USDA and other agencies have committed to addressing our concerns speaks volumes for agriculture’s voice in these tough times. Let’s keep up that good work and urge our leaders to bring a modernized NAFTA across the finish line as well as strike new deals to broaden our market share. We need the certainty of fair trade with our nearest neighbors and greater access to customers around the world if U.S. agriculture is going to survive and thrive.

Now is the time for you to share your stories of how important trade is to your farm. U.S. agriculture has contributed over $300 billion in trade surpluses over the last 10 years. That’s to the credit of hardworking men and women like you. It’s the high-quality food, fuel and fiber you grow that has created our impressive ag trade surplus. Please share with your lawmakers what free and fair trade means to your business and what is at risk for you in this trade war.

While the Administration and Congress negotiate and authorize trade deals, those deals are just the starting point, opening a door of opportunity. America’s farmers and ranchers have led the way in seizing on the opportunities fair trade has to offer. Let’s not squander our opportunity now to stand up for the businesses we have spent a lifetime building. The task at hand is to have our ag voice be heard loud and clear at home. Find a town hall meeting close to you and reinforce what we at American Farm Bureau and your state Farm Bureaus are telling your lawmakers on the Hill. Let’s work together and make a difference.

Zippy Duvall

Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.