As Washington whispers aboutcollusionand Ottawa sinks into a scandal thatwill dominate the media for months pre-election, the economies of the United States and Canada continue to hum along.

But Im concerned they willface disruption if we fail to confrontthe turmoil thats brewing in our trading partnership.

Im a farmer in western Canada, and when I was president of the Western Canadian Wheat GrowersAssociationI did everything in my power toensureour long, shared borderhad open communication and a strong working relationship.

Most Americansmustwantthesame thing: namely,the economic opportunities and consumer choices that flow from free trade.

A new report, completed by agriculture economists at Purdue University, in coordination with the Farm Foundation, ومع ذلك, highlights the emerging risks: If the current U.S. trade policy were to continue towards protectionism U.S. agricultural exports would drop by $21.8 billion.

Thats a lot of money, even in Canadian dollars.

التقرير, written by three economists at Purdue University and released on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., shows how much Americas trade warfareputsالعاشرatatrisk.

It describes the starkest of cases, analyzing what would happen if the United States were to quit NAFTA and not replace it with the USMCA, the successor pact that trade negotiators for the United States, المكسيك, and Canada completed last year. This action alone would cause more than half of the damage that the Purdue / Farm Foundation report says is possible: a loss of more than $12 billion in agricultural exports for U.S. farmers and ag businesses.

Thatsa worst-case scenario. Yet itshardly unimaginable: As recently as three months ago, President Trumpthreatenedto withdraw from NAFTAas a way topressure Congress to approve USMCA.

Most of the rest of$21.8billion in potential farm-export losses comes from $8.4billionin trade retaliation,including measures by China and Europe.The decision in 2017 to quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) accounts foran additional sum ofتقريبيا $2 مليار.

The combined result would devastate farmers. On average, says the Purdue / Farm Foundation report, such an export reduction is equivalent to $4,000 per person employed in the agricultural and food sectors. It would hurt non-farmers as well: This scenario would also result in an aggregate loss of economic well-being of $42.5 billion or over $500 per U.S. household.

Trade tariffs are taxes by another name, and so this is essentially a big tax hike on every American.

The news isnt wholly bad. حقيقة, the Purdue / Farm Foundations report highlights a couple of opportunities for American policymakers. Replacing NAFTA with USMCA, فمثلا, would boost U.S. farm exports by $454 مليون. And rejoining TPP would deliver $2.9 billion in new sales.

As these numbers reveal, ومع ذلك, the threats dwarf the opportunities.

Here in Canada, were stillstriving toimprove our trading partnerships and prospects.Were members ofthe TPP: Our governmentsignedthe pact last year, giving us preferential access to Japan, أستراليا, نيوزيلاندا, and other markets around the Pacific Rim.We also have a newtradedealwith the European Union.

I hope the United States will join us, both in the USMCA as well as the TPP.Were better off whenwe work together.

It doesnt matter where we produce food in North America.Youcan grow corn in Iowa, pinto beans in North Dakota, أو, like me,durumwheat in Saskatchewan. Wegrow far more food than ourcombined populationscan eat.Our way of life requires exportmarkets.

بالطبع بكل تأكيد, increased agricultural trade helps more than farmers. It fills our grocerystores with food from around the planet: avocados from Mexico, papayas from Hawaii, and maple syrup from Quebec. Thats good for the millions of people who never set foot onfarmس. And most people I know expect that kind of access, regardless of the season of the year.

Nobody should want to turn back the clock on trade. At least now, thanks to the work at Purdue and the Farm Foundation, we can put a potential price tag on what a bad choice for the United States looks like: $21.8 مليار.

So listen, even during the highly dramatic, soap opera-like scene in the political news..dont forget about trade. Please.

* This column first appeared at The Hill.