Given the unique experience GFN board member Terry Wanzek recently had with visiting White House officials to discuss current trade issues, it makes sense to expand as much as possible on his thoughts, which reflect many other US farmers andranchers. (See hiscolumnfrom June 28, 2018 and The Jamestown Sun from June 16, 2018 Wanzek meets with White House officials on trade.) Any feedback or thoughts you’d like to make? Please feel free to share in the comments.

 

Question:The dictionary defines trade as both a noun and a verb both definitions describe the action of selling goods and services. How important is trade and the ability to access markets to your farm?

Answer: Extremely important. Most every crop we grow depends on exports intheir respectivemarkets. Pinto beans that we grow, for instance, haveanywherefrom30% to 60% exported some years. Take hard red spring wheat also, roughly 50% of our production depends on export customers. While domestic consumption is important,we produce more than is needed for our own use. We are efficient producers and the world can benefit by ourcompetitively priced production as well as our own country. We are efficient, productive and competitive producers of food in the USA. We benefit by having access to world markets as well as the world benefits from the availabilityofrelativelycheap food and fiber. Openly free and fair trade allows resources to flow to the most efficient use where it makes the most sense to produce.

Question:When talking about trade, emphasis is often placed on the abilityto sellproducts and services (exports). Trade also covers what we buy. How important is the ability to purchase goods and services for your farm (imports)? For example, what are some items that you purchase that are necessary for your farming operation to be profitable?

Answer: As I stated in the previous question, free and fair trade allows natural resources to be utilized in the most efficient manner where it makes the most sense to produce. When it works in a perfect environment, you are getting the best bang for the buck. Take steel for instance, we depend heavily on newhigh-techfarm equipment to operate. When we seetariffs or any other tradedistortingmeasureson steel, weincrease the cost of this equipment. We pay more for our farm equipment than we would otherwise without trade impediments.

Question:In your opinion, how important is NAFTA to your farm?ToNorthDakota? To the United States?

Answer: Again, NAFTA is extremely important. As I stated in earlier, our exports of edible beans, mainlyour Pinto bean market is dependent on exportsales for 30% per 60% of our production in some years. We seem to do best with our pinto production when Mexico is in the market buying pinto beans.Also,as a spring wheat producer andcorn producer we depend heavily on the Mexican market. Forall ofthe US wheat producers Mexico is one of our top wheatmarkets. The Mexican wheat market is crucial toall US Wheat producers.

Question:What type of infrastructure is needed to efficiently move products in and out of your farming operation?

Answer: Probably the most important infrastructure is our market to market road system. The first few miles of travel for most any commodity produced in the USA is on a township or county road. Theseroad arteries, for most any commodity that we farmers produce, arecrucial to effectively and efficiently getting grain to the larger grain terminals that are on a railway or water or seaway. While all these larger obviousinfrastructure needs areimportant, we tend to overlook the more remote transportation infrastructure needs, not realizing how important they are in costs of productionandhelpingour farmers be competitive in a global market.

Question:In one or two sentences, what message do you want to send trade negotiators regarding the importance and impact on your farm and community?

Answer: I want them to simply realize that trade isa significant partofoureconomic sustainability in rural America. At least 30% or more of our customers are currently outside of the USA. How many businesses do you know that could take a hit on losing 30% of their customer base. We are some of the most productive, efficient and competitive producers in the world. Weneedaccess to theworld market. We need fair and reasonable and as free as possible trade. We can compete in a true free market environment!