Over 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. The growth opportunities are endless for American agriculture. But there is a need to understand the value of international trade and how more Americans can benefit from it, according to founding members of the new Agricultural Trade Education Council.
Farm leaders from major food and agriculture associations announced the formation of ATEC, a 501c (3) nonprofit that will be a resource for education on the value of agricultural policies, practices and business structures. ATEC is chaired by agricultural leaders with decades of experience in training farmers, policy makers and businesses on the workings of the international trading system. ATEC will facilitate trade policy education on a variety of topics in an effort to increase support and engagement in a rules-based trading system.
ATEC offers in-person or online training for organizations or for meetings to provide business training covering trade agreements, congressional trade policy, the World Trade Organization and more.
In an Oct. 26 address to the Trinational International Agreement on Agriculture, Michael Anderson, ATEC board member and vice president of business and industrial affairs for National Corn Refiners, said, “An understanding stronger trade advantages, market structures and rules allow agricultural producers to be competitive and adapt to an increasingly competitive global market.
He adds that ATEC was created with the aim of deepening understanding of the benefits of trade and the vital role of international trade in the agricultural community. ATEC is uniquely positioned to foster more in-depth business education in order to realize the benefits of trade for stakeholders in agriculture.
“As U.S. agricultural players continue to rely more and more on commerce, it is important to understand how commerce works, how established policies impact U.S. agriculture, and how to engage in commerce. Says Becky Rasdall, ATEC board member and vice president for commerce. politics and international affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association. “ATEC is here to meet this need and help our farming community better engage in the global market. “
Having previously provided trade policy training to IDFA members and serving as support staff and / or negotiator for at least three agreements during his time at USDA and in the US Trade Representative’s office, Rasdall is well placed to advance ATEC’s mission, adds IDFA.
“Helping American dairy products understand the increasing globalization of their customer and consumer bases, and how best to understand and use trade policy to access those customers, is something that I’m passionate about. But I also recognize that American dairy products are clearly not the only ones with these needs, and so I am honored to contribute to the important work that ATEC will put forward, ”said Rasdall.
Brian Kuehl, executive director of the newly formed council, also plays a similar role in Farmers for Free Trade’s effort to educate farmers on the importance of trade. Kuehl is a partner and director of government and public affairs at KCoe Isom, a leading US food and agricultural accounting and business consulting firm.
Kuehl says the council’s efforts are “long overdue.” He adds that 20% of farm income in the United States comes from exports, and farmers also depend on imports of farm inputs, tractor parts and other essential equipment.
“All of us in America’s food and agriculture need to understand and be prepared to navigate complex trade rules and dispute settlement structures and participate in trade negotiations. It is time to get back to the basics of understanding trade and how trade agreements work. These tools can enable us to increase farm incomes and support the entire food and agricultural supply chain, ”says Kuehl.
North American Meat Institute’s international trade policy specialist Michael Schumpp has been elected treasurer of the newly formed board of trustees. Members of the ATEC board include: Anderson of the CRA; Rasdall of IDFA; Melissa Kessler, US Grains Council; Lance Jungmeyer, Fresh Products Association of America; and Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture.