The event. As the officer team bonded, as well

The frightening
suspense of listening to click, click, click as you climb the hill is
terrifying. The anxiety of the upcoming descent and the feeling that your
stomach is about to drop continues to grow. Being the thrill seeker I am I look
forward to every moment of the roller coaster. This past fall on the way home
from National FFA convention, we stopped at Six Flags St. Louis for their
fright fest event. As the officer team bonded, as well as froze our tails off,
we got to experience some of the best and biggest roller coasters I have ever
seen. One of my favorite roller coasters was the Screamin’ Eagle. The Screamin’
Eagle’s 110-foot height and 62 mile per hour speed were instant Guinness World
Records on the day it first opened in 1976. As we scaled to the very top of the
roller coaster, I was impatiently awaiting our decent. And then it was there!
The drop in gravity, the thrill of the speed and the violent turns. The ups and
downs we experienced was one of the best roller coasters of my memory.

Like the
roller coaster, and the ups and downs I look forward to, agriculturalists
experience some of the same feelings while looking and at the markets for their
crops, but they don’t have quite the same thrill. In the trade market,
agri-businesses and companies find themselves on a never ending rollercoaster
of price fluctuations, supply and demand, as well as always changing trade
policies. Bilateral trade agreements play a significant role in promoting trade
between countries. One bilateral trade agreement enacted by the government is
NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA established in 1993
was created to help sell our American products between the United States,
Canada, and Mexico. With an annual productivity of over 1.7 trillion dollars,
NAFTA was well positioned to become the largest trading bloc in the world.
Since becoming operational, trade between U.S. and NAFTA members, particularly
Mexico, has significantly increased in most sectors of their economies. Free
trade eliminates tariffs or taxes on goods between counties, which breaks down
barriers and allows the exports of more American goods. In turn creating more
jobs in Oklahoma and helping strengthen our domestic economy.                         

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U.S. Trade
with NAFTA partners has seen a remarkable growth since the implementations of
the NAFTA agreement. Estimates show that U.S. Trade with NAFTA partners has
increased by 78% since 1993. Trade with Mexico alone has increased by 141%,
compared to an average trade growth of 43% world-wide during the same period.
In the years which the U.S. unemployment rate was at its highest is the same
year that the U.S. trade deficit was at its lowest. I believe there is a
correlation between the number of jobs in the U.S. economy and our nation’s
trade deficit.

Some
believe the increased interest in the dairy industry by Canada has put pressure
on the American dairy farmers by forcing lower prices in the US. Even though
the agricultural industry may benefit from NAFTA with exports of totaling $31.4
billion, other industries such as the automotive industry may not experience
similar benefits. There’s a general consensus that the trade agreement isn’t
perfect as made evident by Canada’s recent dairy policy adjustments and America’s
newly announced lumber tariffs. But it has also helped facilitate agricultures
commerce growth over the last two decades, both at home and abroad.

 With the latest tension put on NAFTA under the
Trump administration, many agriculturalist wonder how this will affect the
agricultural markets and the future of their businesses. President Trump was
quoted saying “NAFTA is the worse trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but
certainly ever signed in this country.” However, the statements made by President
Trump are directed towards the industrialization factories and not necessarily agriculture.
Pulling out of NAFTA would cause huge reaction by sending agriculturist on
their terrifying ride back down the roller-coaster and sending the whole
continent into chaos. By eliminating NAFTA tariffs would be placed back on
trade goods increasing the price for the consumer. Instead of leaving NAFTA the
government should focus on improvements and updates to the agreement.

As
mentioned earlier, NAFTA was originally negotiated in 1993, so naturally the
agreement is outdated, and needs renegotiation. Nearly 25 years ago when
negotiating NAFTA, the United States and Canada in particular, certain sectors
where left off the table. For example, sugar, peanuts, and dairy where not
tariff free. Even Canada had their own sensitive areas like poultry and dairy. Understandably,
each country has their own wish list of areas they would like to change. The
U.S. dairy producers in particular would like to see a broader opening into
Canadian markets.

International
trade is very important to the U.S. agricultural industry especially for
certain crops and livestock. Soybean producers for example, export one in every
four acres grown to China. Our country exports an abundance of corn, wheat, and
rice. In certain commodities we export over 50 percent of the harvest. The
cotton industry in particular exports almost 75 percent of the cotton
harvested. So being able to have an international market place for these
products is very important to the agricultural industry as a whole, and has
become increasingly important for products in livestock and dairy.

The roller
coaster was rough, just like the markets. Some people even want to quit after
the first ride, but Ag producers are tough and preserve through the hard times.
Oklahoma farmers and ranchers depend on international agricultural markets to
remain in business, as 95 percent of the worlds consumers live outside the
United State. The North American Free Trade Agreement allowed Mexico to become
a leading destination for Oklahoma’s leading exports from 8.9 billion in 1993
to $38 billion in 2016, and allowed U.S. agriculture to maintain a positive
trade balance with Mexico in 20 of the last 23 years since NAFTA was created.
Placing higher tariffs on imports will create additional trade barriers for
Oklahoma farmers and ranchers and will harm our states second leading industry.
I believe the modernization of NAFTA must prioritize and defend the gains
achieved in U.S. agricultural trade.

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