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Ag groups implore presidential candidates to open new marketsAg groups implore presidential candidates to open new markets

Farmers for Free Trade says U.S. should decrease reliance on China.

Joshua Baethge

August 22, 2023

2 Min Read
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A large coalition of agriculture trade associations is calling for access to more markets and decreasing reliance on China. On the eve of the first Republican presidential debate, Farmers for Free Trade sent a letter to all presidential candidates imploring them to hold China accountable in a “responsible manner” that does not hinder the two nations’ trade relations or lead to retaliatory tariffs.

The letter argues that admitting China to the World Trade Organization has paid huge dividends for American agriculture producers. That nation now accounts for nearly a fifth of U.S. food and agriculture exports. However, tariffs and retaliatory tariffs enacted during the Trump administration are still negatively impacting American producers.

To mitigate those effects, the agriculture groups recommend growing existing markets to decrease reliance on China. They contend international trade is an important diplomatic tool that builds relations with other countries, lessening China’s global influence.

Call for free trade agreements

The letter notes it has been more than a decade since the U.S. last entered into a new comprehensive free trade agreement. During that time, American allies and adversaries have been crafting their own agreements. According to Farmers for Free Trade, now is the time for the U.S. to act.

“The U.S. needs to again take the lead in negotiating new FTAs (free trade agreements) with other countries and work to strengthen and reform the rules-based multilateral trading system,” the letter says. “In many respects, future FTAs could be modeled on the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement passed by Congress with broad bipartisan support. Such agreements could protect American workers and the environment, help contain China’s growing geopolitical influence, and open new export markets for our farmers by meaningfully reducing and eliminating tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers.”

Groups signing onto the letter include the Almond Alliance, American Feed Industry Association, American Soybean Association, Animal Health Institute, Corn Refiners Association, Farmers for Free Trade, International Fresh Produce Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Sorghum Producers, North American Meat Institute, North American Renderers Association, U.S. Apple Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council and USA Rice.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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