International trade plays a vital role in the prosperity of Utah agriculture. Enhancing market access and ensuring a level playing field in international markets is one of the most important things we can do to grow agriculture — and jobs — in Utah. Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers live outside of the U.S., which means there is tremendous opportunity for Utah’s farmers and ranchers to expand their reach and sell Utah agricultural food products to more consumers around the world. Through the reduction and elimination of burdensome tariffs and the opening of new markets to American agricultural products, Congress can support jobs and generate income for rural communities across Utah.
Agricultural exports are an important part of Utah’s economy. According to the USDA, Utah agricultural exports have grown for a fifth year in a row, hitting a record $528 million in 2014; the latest numbers available. These are exports that provide much-needed income to our farms and support approximately 3,800 jobs, stimulating over $660 million in additional business activity for a total of over $1.1 billion in agricultural and other business activity annually in Utah due to agricultural exports.
Real people are affected by international trade decisions. Only 3 million people live in Utah. International trade provides an unbelievable potential for our ranchers who are taking a hit this year due to the unfair tariffs placed on beef by some countries.
These ranchers are your friends and neighbors, people who live, work and play in cities around the state. They are people like Charles Redd of La Sal and Joe Fuhriman of Logan. Both of these ranchers work tirelessly on their ranching operations to provide high quality beef for their customers. International trade can help make or break their livelihoods, and giving them greater access to markets in places like Japan or Malaysia, free from unfair tariffs, we can provide them with an even larger market for Utah beef.
Imagine millions of dollars flowing into Cache Valley and the La Sal region because Joe and Charles can export their beef to more people around the world. Utahns need more export access for our friends, our farmers and our ranchers.
Establishing strong, enforceable rules of trade to protect American exporters from politically motivated, un-scientific trade barriers will ensure that Utah’s agricultural and food companies will be able to succeed in a global marketplace free from burdensome trade regulations.
The opportunities for Utah agriculture are too great — and the risks of inaction too harmful — to fail to support the reduction and elimination of burdensome tariffs and the opening of new markets to American agricultural products. Lowering the tariffs that other countries put on American agricultural products helps make our products more affordable for foreign consumers — and therefore more enticing to buy. Utah’s farmers, ranchers and food companies are diverse and innovative. Fair and free international trade rules and regulations will allow them to thrive in a growing global marketplace. Their success will mean more jobs for Utah families and more money in Utahns' pockets.
Utah’s agriculture and food industry is incredible, and I urge Congress to allow it to reach its full, global potential by unleashing it from burdensome and unfair international trade rules, regulations and practices. Now is the time to act; individuals, families and rural communities across Utah eagerly anticipate the opportunities your actions will provide.
LuAnn Adams is a farmer and rancher from Box Elder County and the commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.