Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, was among the farm and ranch leaders representing the United States at the 39th biennial North American/European Union Agriculture Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As a member of the American Farm Bureau’s trade committee, Veach accompanied AFBF President Zippy Duvall of Georgia, vice president Scott VanderWal of South Dakota, and presidents of Farm Bureaus representing Texas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“We covered a broad set of issues ranging from farm policy, use of ag technology, trade, of course, and also how to increase agricultural production to meet rising food demand around the world,” Veach said. “We had the opportunity to visit with the European Union’s top trade negotiator, and talk about ways for us to deliver more agricultural products to those countries.
“We currently have a $7-8 billion agricultural trade deficit with the EU, and we talked about ways to equalize that, how we can get more U.S. farm products into the countries of the European Union. Personal relations really matter when you are talking about trade, and we impressed upon them the food safety protocols utilized in the United States, the production practices that help ensure profitability and sustainability on our farms, and the environmental stewardship utilized by our farmers and ranchers.”
Veach indicated that trade leaders from Canada and Mexico were at the conference as well, providing the opportunity to promote the pending United States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. USMCA approval is pending in Congress, though it is expected to be brought for a vote in the coming weeks.
“The representatives from Canada and Mexico understand that the United States is extremely important to them. I think (USMCA) will come about. Mexico has approved it. We have it in front of Congress right now, and Canada is waiting on its Parliament to reconvene in October. Hopefully, we can finally get it approved.”
Veach says the United States’ role in sharing its excess food capacity with other parts of the world is essential.
“Any time you represent Arkansas, and the United States, on issues surrounding trade of agricultural products, you have the opportunity to reflect the values and commitment of our farmers and ranchers. That is a meaningful and will hopefully pay dividends for increased export of farm products from our state and country while driving growth in our industry and expanding access to safe and sustainable farm products around the world.”