Export Advantage

May 23, 2014

May 23, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today's commentary —

U.S. agriculture has a global competitive advantage. We have access to, and use the best production technologies available. We have creative, educated, smart farmers and ranchers tilling the land and managing the livestock. But perhaps more important, we have a very efficient transportation infra structure that can deliver our products more cheaply to customers around the world. And we need to keep it that way.

There is a water resources bill in Congress now that is expected to pass, providing the foundation to support our competitive advantage.

Here is what AgriPulse has to say about the bill. "After months of negotiations, House and Senate negotiators, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (Cal) and Rep. Bill Shuster (PA) announced a deal to advance the $8.2 billion Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which could fix ailing locks and dams, restore waterways, renew ports, provide for flood control and create 500,000 new jobs."

We need to get this done to stay ahead of our global competition. We export at least 30% of the food we produce. We still have a competitive advantage. Take a look at Brazil, perhaps our toughest competition. Consider soy beans from Iowa or Illinois down the Mississippi, over the ocean to Shanghai, China. We have a customer cost advantage of about $40 per metric ton over Brazil. That's huge. Our water system with locks and dams is where we get ahead. In Brazil, since they don't have our water system, their trucking costs are almost $100 per metric ton more than ours.

Getting political agreement with the gridlock that has tied our Congress in knots was not easy.

As I am sure you may be aware, the House will not allow "ear marks." Little special deals written into legislation to buy some Members votes. Well, the Committee found a way to satisfy those Members. They got the Chief of Engineers to put those special projects in his work report and that closed the deal. Like it or not, sometimes that's how it is done. "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

At any rate – so far, so good. Keep the pressure on the Congress to get this done. And, the next challenge will be to get the money to fund the project.

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.