By Mike Barnett
What’s more boring than talking about international trade?
Watching paint dry. Maybe.
But it’s a subject that should grab attention. From farmers and consumers.
Because it directly affects you. Exports add value to Texas agriculture. All Texas crops and livestock were sold for $20 billion in 2012, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture. About a third of that was exported to other nations. Over $6.5 billion worth in 2012. That’s not pocket change.
Those dollars flow into rural Texas. To support local businesses. Fund local schools. Maintain rural infrastructure.
Most important, those dollars keep family farms viable. So they can continue to stay on the land and provide you and me an abundant supply of safe and affordable food. Call it food security.
But it’s more than that.
Agricultural exports provide jobs. Throughout Texas and across the nation. Economists say every $1 billion in agricultural exports generates 15,611 jobs. That means over 1 million Texans are providing for their families because of agricultural exports from the Lone Star State.
There is an ongoing debate about trade and exports in Washington. It’s called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
TPA gives the president the authority to negotiate trade deals. Congress may approve or reject. But they can’t change.
To make a long story short, we need it. Without TPA, export markets are in danger of drying up. Farm income drops. Rural Texas gets left behind. And a million Texans face dicey job prospects.
That’s why agriculture exports are important to you. Me. And all Texans.