Executive Vice President
Do you remember the large vinyl maps that your elementary teacher used to pull down from over the blackboard to use in social studies class? I was fascinated by those colorful world maps, interested in learning more about foreign lands, but never really thinking that those countries would have any significance in my life. Little did I know as a preteen how our communication and economy would globalize and how what happened in one of those faraway lands could impact our lives right here in North Dakota.
We have talked many times about the importance of world trade on the bottomlines of our state’s cattle producers. That is illustrated well in U.S. Meat Export Federation data that shows that U.S. beef exports last year accounted for $300 per head — real money for cow-calf producers like you and I. That’s why the NDSA has been watching with interest all the ongoing trade discussions and encouraging expedited resolutions to those discussions in order to curtail any negative U.S. cattle market reaction.
Over the past month, our organization has had three unique opportunities to communicate our views on trade. In June, NDSA member Jay Doan of McKenzie joined Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and other North Dakota ag leaders at a meeting with Mexican Ambassador Geronimo Gutierrex at the Mexican Embassy. I had the privilege of joining Rep. Kevin Cramer and fellow North Dakota ag leaders in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky at the White House. I also participated in a roundtable discussion with Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi at a meeting at the Farm Bureau Office in Bismarck.
In each meeting, our basic message was this: While we support modernizing agreements and correcting inequities that may exist, U.S. trade negotiators must move swiftly to finalize these discussions to give beef producers and other agriculturists — and the markets they rely upon — certainty and stability and to move forward to open doors to new markets where opportunity exists. These steps are particularly important as the global protein supply builds and is on target to hit a new record level later this year.