A Huge Win for Arkansas Farmers

September 27, 2019
Weekly Columns

While news stations focused on impeachment this week, a huge win for American farmers and ranchers slipped quietly under the radar. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed phase one of a U.S.-Japan trade deal, and the agreement is set to go into effect this coming January.

What does this mean for Arkansas specifically? The deal will level the international playing field, allowing the U.S. to once again be competitive with beef and pork exports. Not only will cattle and pig producers benefit, but a deal like this also boosts grain production, to supply an increased livestock demand.

During the August work period, I had the opportunity to travel to Japan and promote Arkansas agriculture products. In every conversation, I heard the message that Japan wanted to purchase more U.S. products; however, we have been losing market share because of trade agreements that Europe, Australia and others have negotiated. Now that our trade agreement is finalized, the U.S. once again has a competitive advantage in Japan.

This agreement lays the groundwork for increased U.S. exports overseas. As the administration continues negotiations with Japan, I will advocate for the addition of short and medium grain rice as acceptable commodities. Currently, almost all U.S. rice exports to Japan come from California, but I’d like to see Arkansas producers benefitting from this expanding relationship as well.

During a difficult year of flooding and trade disagreements, I’m glad to see a much-needed boost in American agricultural products, which will directly benefit hardworking Arkansan farmers. This agreement with Japan is a big step forward, but we need to focus on finalizing the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, which should have already been passed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to allow a vote.