A new organization dubbed the Agriculture Trade Education Council (ATEC) launched publicly last week with the aim of offering educational resources on how trade policy works to leaders across agriculture sectors and commodities.
The new group will focus on developing and delivering content about agricultural trade agreements, practices and structures – topics that have become of increasing interest and importance to farmers in recent years.
Melissa Kessler, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) director of strategic initiatives and engagement, is a founding ATEC board member.
“Trade impacts every farmer and every participant the ag value chain. Trade also impacts every consumer, both here in the United States and globally,” Kessler said. “Over the last few years, we’ve seen those impacts directly – good and bad – and they have only highlighted the need for high-quality, clear and accessible information about trade policies and practices. We’re excited to build on the great trade education work we’ve done in the corn industry since 2016 as part of this across-agriculture coalition.”
In addition to Kessler, five other ag organization representatives sit on the board, encompassing much of the diversity of U.S. agriculture. They include: Michael Anderson, Corn Refiners Association; Lance Jungmeyer, Fresh Produce Association of America; Becky Rasdall, International Dairy Foods Association; Derek Sandison, Washington State Department of Agriculture; and Michael Schumpp, North American Meat Institute. Brian Kuehl is serving as executive director for ATEC.
“Twenty percent of farm revenues in the United States derive from exports, and farmers also rely on imports of ag inputs, tractor parts and other essential equipment. All of us in U.S. food and agriculture need to understand and be prepared to navigate complex trade rules and dispute resolution structures and participate in trade negotiations,” Kuehl said in an announcement of the new group.
“It’s time to get back to the basics of understanding trade and how trade agreements operate. These tools can allow us to expand farm revenues and support the whole food and ag supply chain.”
ATEC is developing a suite of educational tools and training opportunities specifically and uniquely about trade, including in-person and online training on trade agreements, Congressional trade policy, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and more.
“We have learned so much through our experiences with ‘trade school’ about what farmers need and want to know to understand trade news and make informed decisions about how trade policies could impact them,” Kessler said. “I’m excited to see how ATEC can enhance our work within the grains family to talk about these issues and also broaden the number of agricultural producers who have access to this information.”
About The U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.