Ag groups continue to press Biden administration on commitment to trade

The head of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture says the Biden administration has to step up its efforts to increase demand for US ag goods. Ted McKinney says he respects the administration for what it is trying to do. “There is a lot you can do just to enforce existing trade agreements or existing WTO compliance,” he says. “But boy, it’s failing miserably.”

In a recent conversation with Brownfield, McKinney reiterated the importance of trade to the U.S. ag economy. “We have got to get back out there and start getting some tariff reductions down,” he says. That usually comes with what I’ve called a free trade agreement. Maybe it comes by another name, but we have to get after that.”

Earlier this year NASDA members participated in a trade mission to Cuba, and McKinney says there’s opportunity for US agriculture. “This gives our people a chance to work with a private company, a private Co-op,” he says.  “Now hard currency access is still very much the problem, but if those companies can do well and get some capital reserves, usually in a Spanish or Canadian bank, then maybe there’s an opportunity to lift up the humanitarian aspects of Cuba.”

The ag trade deficit has been on the rise, and the Biden administration has been under increasing pressure to negotiate free trade agreements and improve the competitiveness of US products on the global market.  The Trump administration only approved one trade agreement, which was the reconfiguration of the North American Free Trade Agreement into the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in early 2020.

NASDA was one of 30 agricultural groups that signed on to a letter to Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai urging the administration to increase engagement on trade policies to bolster the country’s global competitive standing.

AUDIO: Ted McKinney, NASDA

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