In rural communities, hard work is a way of life. You put in long hours, day in and day out, and, with the help of innovative technology, good weather and a little luck, you reap what you sow. Your hard work contributes to a rural economy that is one of the strongest in the world.
Whether you’re a farmer and rancher, a small business owner, or an employee at a rural business, you make products that are in high demand here at home and abroad.
America’s farmers and ranchers, for example, exported a record $152.5 billion worth of products to other countries last year. Thanks to past trade agreements that have lowered barriers, aggressive monitoring and enforcement, and targeted promotion programs to help get our products on the shelves in foreign markets, the past six years have been the strongest in history for U.S. agricultural trade.
Here in Iowa, our farmers and ranchers do their part. The state is the second largest ag exporter in the country, sending more than $10.2 billion abroad in 2013.
World Food Processing of Oskaloosa is the most comprehensive soybean supply company in the world today, providing 99.99 percent Non-GMO and organic soybeans, as well as soy-based products to producers and leading food manufacturers around the globe. World Food knows first-hand that Congress must act on bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority early this year. Without it, they could lose out on the opportunity to tap into new markets and better reach the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside of our borders.
Trade Promotion Authority allows America to speak with one voice on trade. Congress sets the parameters for negotiations by the President and his team, and they can vote down the deal if they don’t like it and don’t think it is consistent with Congress’ instructions.
With Trade Promotion Authority, everyone has a say, but ultimately, new trade agreements are passed, to the benefit of every American. Whether it is sending more beef or pork to Japan; poultry to Vietnam; or fruits, vegetables and grains to the growing Asian market, all rural businesses—farm and non-farm alike—stand to benefit from new and expanded trade agreements that will come as a result of Trade Promotion Authority.
The impact of expanded exports reaches even deeper and further into our rural communities. With expanded sales, rural businesses create new American jobs up and down the supply chain. Agricultural exports alone support more than 1 million jobs here at home, a substantial part of the 11.3 million American jobs supported by exports overall. With more money in their pockets, rural business owners not only hire new workers, they spend more at local businesses, strengthening rural economies and supporting communities where more people want to live and work.
To stay ahead of the game in international trade, actively negotiate new agreements that ensure American products can compete on a level playing field, and continue the forward momentum of our rural communities, rural businesses need Trade Promotion Authority.
This tool has been put in place for Democrat and Republican Presidents alike and it allows the Administration to show a united front when negotiating with other countries and get the best deal for American farmers, ranchers, and workers. Until Congress passes Trade Promotion Authority, they force us to stand still as other countries make agreements that leave out American businesses and hold back our rural communities.
Bill Menner was appointed as the USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa in July 2009. In his position he oversees state activities of the USDA mission area that provides housing, community facility, energy and business support across rural America.
John Whitaker was named USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director in July 2009. The agency is dedicated to achieving an economically and environmentally sound future for American agriculture.