Your Views: Voice of reason needed on trade agreements
I am writing in response to your Feb. 8 editorial, “Defend, don’t bargain away, free trade.” As a lifetime member of the agriculture community, I want to tell you that you are “spot on.” You recognize that we are taking huge risks for agriculture by shaking up our export markets with Mexico, China, Canada and more.
Those of us who are old remember the grain embargo imposed on Russia by the Carter administration in response to the invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. It was immediately reversed by the Reagan administration in 1981, but the damage was done. The Russians found other providers and hardly missed the grain, while the 1980s in the United States were a time of grain surpluses, with programs put in place to pay farmers not to grow grain.
Your editorial criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan. I know Paul Ryan to be a genuinely good and decent person. For me, I thought he would stand as a voice of reason in this turbulent rhetoric that is coming from the new administration. However, as you have noted, he stood by quite quietly as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was let go.
These trade agreements are vital to American agriculture. We need Paul Ryan to be that voice of reason, and we need it soon.
The Russian grain embargo of 1980 proved that if you become an unreliable supplier, there are plenty of other countries (China, Brazil) more than willing to step in and supply in our place.