U.S. Ag – Where Do We Fit? NAFTA, Brazil Competition, China – Listen Up

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Feeling weary of trade talk? Not exactly sure where agriculture fits in the latest trade discussions? Dr. Luis Ribera, Professor and Extension Economist at the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University, has answers with extensive facts to back them up.  

In a University of Arkansas webinar, Ribera gets down to basics covering:

  • where the U.S. stands in competition with Brazil for future export trade,
  • how NAFTA has affected farmers’ bottom line since its implementation,
  • and the trade choices China will consider in the future.

Ribera has traveled extensively to Brazil to gather data and meet with industry experts on cotton, sugarcane and ethanol production. He is also working on a competitiveness analyses for crop production between the U.S. and Latin America.

This webinar is hosted by the University of Arkansas with introduction by Bobby Coats, Professor and Extension Economist, University of Arkansas. Scroll down and click on the image link below to watch or listen.

A few quick take away points:

  • Trade deficit isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it is a supply demand issue – nothing more or less.
  • About 35% of U.S. farm income comes from overseas market. U.S. is the largest ag exporter, $138 Billion in 2017.
  • NAFTA fulfilled its objectives for agriculture: Total U.S. exports increased 199% from 1994 to 2017 and U.S. ag exports to Canada and Mexico increased 291% in the same period.
  • The U.S. has maxed out on agricultural land for production and is now mainly dependent on technology to increase productivity per acre. Brazil is a different story since it can basically double its cropland frontier without chopping a single tree.
  • China has more purchasing power allowing them to change from a grain based diet to a meat diet. Now there is a great need for soybeans, corn and sorghum to feed their livestock.
  • Agriculture is a very small piece of the NAFTA pie.  It comes in at only 5 to 6% of all the trade that happens under the agreement with automotive being the largest piece.

Top 10 States – Percentage of All Agricultural Exports to Mexico:

  1. Missouri – 51%
  2. New Mexico – 45%
  3. South Dakota – 39%
  4. Texas – 37%
  5. Nebraska – 36%
  6. Iowa – 35%
  7. Kansas – 28%
  8. Arkansas – 27%
  9. North Dakota – 25%
  10. Minnesota – 24%

WATCH IT HERE:




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