Fall harvest is just around the corner, and many farmers are expecting record yields this year. But the blessing of a good harvest can also be a burden if you don’t have enough customers for your crops. With the lowest commodity prices on corn and soybeans in more than a decade, farmers need access to more markets if they’re going to keep their farms and our rural economies afloat.  

Free trade has changed the business of American agriculture for the better. U.S. farmers and ranchers have a well-earned reputation of growing the best agricultural products in the world. That’s not just home-grown patriotism speaking: Our agricultural export numbers speak for themselves. For example, in 2013, 40 percent of U.S. meat sales by value came from customers outside our borders. And nearly half of the value of fruit and tree nuts grown in the U.S. comes from international sales. Without those markets, many American farmers and ranchers wouldn’t have been able to keep their land in business and in their families. But those are just a couple slices of the pie that is U.S. agricultural exports.

Beyond the Fencerows column by AFBF President Duvall