Often, we residents of rural America feel ignored and underappreciated by national politicians, but that’s their fault. They forget that rural America represents real wealth to our nation. In a letter this week, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue reminded President Joe Biden of that fact. McHargue wrote: “Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.28 in economic activities, such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production.”
Farmers and ranchers across America produce real wealth for this nation. The best way to multiply that wealth is to capitalize on the strengths of U.S. agriculture and aggressively participate in global trade.
Former President Donald Trump didn’t seem to understand that vital fact. He withdrew the United States from global trade pacts, severing our ag producers from lucrative opportunities and eroding trust in the U.S. as a reliable supplier.
Our current president, Joe Biden, used this Trump failing in his campaign for the White House; however, Biden is repeating Trump’s mistake by not answering his own call for aggressive action on trade.
McHargue’s letter communicated farm country’s concerns about the administration’s apparent lack of action: “In the five months that have passed since writing the letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and the eight months you’ve been in office, we have seen very little accomplished in the area of trade and trade policy. This lack of progress is unacceptable and undermines your pledge to ‘restore U.S. global leadership.’”
The trade issue is of extreme importance in rural America, especially during the various harvest seasons. Farmers hope that prices they’re paid for those crops contribute to a healthy bottom line. Likewise, cattle, swine and other livestock we produce had better fetch fair prices, or the consequences will be felt everywhere. Main street businesses, our schools, churches and hospitals all rely on a healthy rural economy, and that begins with a healthy farm economy.
Farmers and ranchers know that if they fail to receive fair prices it bodes poorly for the months ahead. Rather than supporting the rural economy, farmers and ranchers tighten their purse strings and wait for better days. Biden needs to understand that developing global trade hedges risks. Developing global trade relations for decades has been the goal for crop and livestock producers. Through the years they’ve reminded presidents and ag secretaries that rural Americans require support from the White House to establish new trade agreements and open new markets. If the U.S. is slow to act or ignores these opportunities, competing nations are happy to exploit the void.
This wealth for rural America and for our nation is something that deserves attention in each of the 50 states. More than McHargue should remind Biden of the farmers’ importance and value. Where would we be without them? If you ate a meal today, whether made up of mostly vegetables or with meat of some sort, thank a farmer. They made it possible.
A slightly revised editorial from the Kearney (Nebraska) Hub.