Economics

Agriculture and Trade

The United States agricultural sector drives economic growth in rural communities, the nation and throughout the world.

Robert Spendlove and Joseph Mayans Jun 9, 2017

The United States agricultural sector drives economic growth in rural communities, the nation and throughout the world. With the continued productivity gains of America’s farmers and ranchers, agricultural output often exceeds demand at home. The need to develop and maintain strong international export markets is increasingly important to the survival of the industry and the jobs it supports. In 2016, the United States exported more than 20 percent of its total agricultural production, including more than 70 percent of tree nut and cotton output, and 50 percent of its rice, soybeans, sorghum and wheat. In addition, the United States exported more than $10 billion worth of its beef and dairy production, which are important agricultural staples of the Intermountain West. Of these exports, more than 60 percent were purchased by Canada, China, Mexico, the European Union and Japan. By continually exporting more than it imports, the United States agricultural sector has historically been a net positive for the national trade balance.

The ability for agriculture producers to reach international markets hinges on policy makers and the trade agreements they negotiate. Good trade agreements reduce barriers and allow American agriculture to reap the benefits of improving global economies and expanding populations. As the incomes of farmers and ranchers are dictated by market prices and evolving tastes, it is imperative they have access to new sources of demand and opportunities for growth. 

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