Congress' Initiative to Meet the Challenge of World Agriculture

David Graves


World agriculture offers many challenges, therefore, discussions can involve many subjects. One of the more important subjects pertaining to world agriculture is, of course, trade--its total volume (or value) and the U.S. share. Both factors of trade are extremely important to today's U.S. agriculture because, since the early 1970's, it has generally been referred to as an international industry, meaning it is dependent on foreign markets for the consumption of a significant percentage of total production.

In the general scheme of economic activities, some businesses thrive on volatility, but not all. Production agriculture is a leading example of a business that does not thrive on volatility. Given the inherent nature of the production-marketing cycle, stability is a highly desired characteristic for agriculture, therefore, an important role for federal programs is stabilizing the operative economic environment, whether domestic or world. Satisfying this objective is more difficult today with agriculture operating in a world trading environment than it was when agriculture operated mainly as a domestic industry. But, rather than conceding world trade to foreign producers simply because marketing in the world environment is more volatile and competitive, the goal or objective must be the development of domestic policy and programs to effectively address U.S. agriculture's modern needs. Policies and programs that were effective for a domestic agricultural industry have not proven adequate for a world-trade dependent U.S. agricultural industry.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1987 Beltwide Cotton Production Conference pp. 25 - 27
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998