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Source: Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City news relase

The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City yesterday held an Agricultural Trade Issue Forum featuring Dr. Bob Young, chief economist of the American Farm Bureau Federation and other panelists from Missouri and Kansas agriculture, including representatives of the Missouri and Kansas Departments of Agriculture, grain trade, food distributors, and others.

The Forum focused on the important benefits the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has brought to American agriculture and agribusiness in this region since its implementation in 1994.

Participants expressed support for efforts to modernize, update and improve upon trade agreements like NAFTA, while still proactively advocating the benefits of agricultural trade and, most importantly, its contribution to job creation, economic growth and the vitality of rural communities.

"The agricultural heartland has been a huge beneficiary of NAFTA with a significant amount of grain and other products from the region flowing directly to Mexico," said Bob Petersen, executive director of the Agricultural Business Council, the Forum's primary sponsor. "NAFTA has had an enormously beneficial impact on Midwestern agriculture since its inception 23 years ago and is important for holding on to our Mexican and Canadian markets in the future."

U.S. agriculture has been a great beneficiary of trade with Mexico, with Mexico ranking as our number three export market with $17.7 billion in agriculture export value in 2015. The top five U.S. agriculture exports to Mexico are:

1.Corn, $2.3 billion
2.Soybeans, $1.4 billion
3.Dairy, $1.3 billion
4.Pork, $1.3 billion
5.Beef, $1.1 billion

Cumulatively, Missouri's agricultural exports to Mexico in 2016 were valued at $957 million; Kansas' exports were valued at $944 million; and Illinois were valued at $957 million. Between 2006 and 2015, those states' agriculture exports to Mexico increased 248 percent (Missouri); 52 percent (Kansas); and 189 percent (Illinois). Nearly 70 percent of Missouri agriculture exports are destined for Mexico and Canada. These markets comprise 36 percent of Kansas agriculture exports and 29 percent for Illinois.

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau State Export Database for Missouri and Kansas indicate:

Top agriculture exports from Missouri to Mexico (2016)

1.Soybean meal, $229 million
2.Corn, $196 million
3.Soybeans, $170 million
4.Wine & Beer, $122 million
5.Prepared Foods, $29 million

Top agriculture exports from Kansas to Mexico (2016):

1.Corn, $274 million
2.Wheat, $179 million
3.Beef & Beef Products, $116 million
4.Soybeans, $135 million
5.Animal Fats, $56 million

Top ag exports from Illinois to Mexico (2016):

1.Corn, $195 million
2.Other intermediate products, $128 million
3.Pork & Pork Products, $88 million
4.Soybeans, $75 million
5.Biodiesel & Blends, $70 million

Dr. Young, in his keynote address, said:

There is no question about the importance of Mexico to US agriculture and to the Kansas City area in particular. US agriculture has worked hard to build and foster this market and we are so fortunate with the infrastructure we have that makes this region a very efficient source of supplies. Without this market, demand for our products would be less and the prices farmers receive for their production would be lower. And price levels this year are already expected to be down from the highs we saw in recent years. From rural America's perspective, strong markets mean strong economic activity that benefits everyone in the chain - the producer, processor, marketer, and transporter.

In addition to Dr. Young, the forum included these panelists who also addressed the importance of US-Mexico trade to the region:

Chris Chinn, director, Missouri Director of Agriculture

Chad Bontrager, deputy secretary, Kansas Department of Agriculture

Warren Erdman, executive vice president administration and corporate affairs, Kansas City Southern Railway

Bill Krueger, president and CEO, Lansing Trade Group

Kevin Smith, assistant vice president-international sales, Seaboard Foods

Neil Herrington, executive director of the Americas, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Forum participants discussed how Midwestern agriculture is very concerned about holding on to the Mexican and Canadian markets for their food products from the heart of America. They intend to voice their concerns as NAFTA is modernized and updated, signing a joint letter to the Missouri, Kansas and down state Illinois congressional delegations, a copy of which is attached.

The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City is an alliance of food and agribusiness interests in the region. Members includes producers and their organizations, service industry (advertising, legal, finance), educational groups, animal health, and businesses (grain, milling, livestock, equipment). Agribusiness continues to be one of the largest business sectors in the Kansas City region, accounting for 8 percent of the workforce and contributing 22 percent of the gross regional product.

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