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Doing Better in Agricultural Trade

Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip spoke during the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s Winter Policy Conference and talked about ag trade. McKalip says the last couple of years have gone well, but there’s always room for improvement.

McKalip, “How do we do more in the area of trade? I’ll tell you, we’ve had two years of record farm exports. We’re about to set a third year of very, very strong agricultural exports, and we’ve had three years of record farm income. Even though we’ve had a record $200 billion in ag exports last year, only about four or five markets around the globe have been responsible for where those commodities go.”

He says USTR understands the need to open up new markets. McKalip says, “Under 20 percent of U.S. farmers have been involved in getting about 89 percent of the export dollars that the U.S. trades in, and so, that means we need to do everything we can to find new markets to make sure that we are diversifying, to make sure that all commodities, all crop types, are able to be successful in agriculture trade.”

McKalip hits some of the trade highlights from 2023. He says, “I’d like to start with India because it’s a country that I don’t think when I addressed this group last January that we would have suspected would have been at the top of our list on agricultural trade. India dropped tariffs on a pretty lengthy list of commodities, and I’ll run through them quickly. Pecans, industrial ethanol, apples, turkey, duck, blueberries, cranberries, peas and lentils, almonds and walnuts. So, by my count, that’s almost a dozen agricultural commodities.”

There have been other advancements as well according to McKalip. He says, “The nation of Jordan in the Middle East dropped its tariff on U.S. fertilized eggs, which was a welcomed step. I’ll list several gains in the continent of Africa. So, Nigeria recently dropped its currency exchange ban that impacts 43 U.S. agricultural commodities that are all able to trade there. Kenya, we are deep in the negotiations with Kenya on an agricultural agreement. And along with that, I would note that in November, I went down to Johannesburg, South Africa for the kickoff of the AGOA reauthorization. This is our main trading agreement that we have with the whole continent of Africa.”

Story courtesy of the NAFB News Service

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