Texas Agriculture March 3, 2017 : Page 16
16 M ARCH 3 , 2017
Agriculture Down Under Has High Export Goals
They’re known as Aussies and Kiwis, and they farm and ranch more than 8,000 miles from the United States. In the international community, Australians and New Zealanders are known as some of the most productive growers in the world.
They are so productive that a very high percentage of agricultural goods produced in each country must be sold abroad. That’s where Aussies, Kiwis and American farmers and ranchers intersect—in the global marketplace.
Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) leaders traveled to Australia and New Zealand in early February to learn more about international trade and the agriculture and agribusiness sectors of the two countries.
Neither Australian nor New Zealand agriculture receives government farm subsidies, according to officials.
“Both countries work at trade very hard, from the quality standpoint, and from the traceability standpoint. They’re going into many, many markets,” TFB President Russell Boening, who headed the group of six TFB state directors and two TFB advisory committee chairmen, said. “By doing that, they have to be able to penetrate those markets. And if they don’t penetrate those markets, they have no market for their product. I was impressed with the way they do that and the seriousness in which they do it.”
The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement was a continual topic of discussion during the trip. Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. were among the 12 nations pursuing the agreement. The Trump administration announced in January that the U.S. was pulling out of the TPP in favor of bilateral trade agreements between the U.S. and each of the 11 other countries.
Australian and New Zealand counterparts expressed disappointment in the U.S. decision. Many fear a possible shift to U.S. isolationism.
“You can’t protect yourself from the rigors of the market. What you need to do is have the market drive innovation, drive productivity, drive entrepreneurialism and drive the kind of growth that America is renowned for,” said Mitchell Hooke, a 30-year veteran of public policy and advocacy work for Australian mining and agricultural interests. “You celebrate success like no other country in the world. Why would you try to isolate yourself from essentially a global economy where you’re really good at it?”