Trade Toolkit

The resources on this Trade Toolkit page are intended for farmers and grain industry stakeholders to use in their outreach on trade and market development topics.

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email Melissa Kessler, USGC director of strategic relations, at


Want to know more about trade’s structure, economic impact and key issues? Go to the Learn About Trade page. Or start with the Backgrounder: The Essential Guide To U.S. Trade, published by USGC in July 2019, available here.


Charts of Note – charts that explain hot trade topics are here.

Infographics – infographics useful for trade outreach are here.

Elevator Speech on Ag Trade

  • The flow of goods, ideas, capital and people is essential for prosperity.
  • 95%+ of the world’s population lives outside the U.S.
  • More than 97% of the anticipated population growth over the next 35 years will take place outside of U.S. borders.
  • Agriculture is the U.S. foreign trade champion.
    • The United States has negotiated trade agreements with 20 countries since the end of World War II, including that which established the World Trade Organization.
    • Recent agreements with Japan and China, which are not full FTAs, also show the importance of policy to grain and grain product sales.
    • In the 2019/2020,  sales to these countries accounted for more than HALF – 53 percent – of all U.S. grains in all forms exports, according to USDA data.
  • Trade policy + market development = sales!
  • Failing to move forward on trade means falling behind.
  • When trade works, the world wins!

Talking Points – Grains In All Forms

  • Overall, 101 million metric tons, equivalent to  3.97 billion bushels, of U.S. grains in all forms were exported in 2019/2020
  • Information about top exporters is here.
  • Free trade agreement (FTA) partners purchased 53 percent all exports of feed grains in all forms (GIAF), approximately 53.4 million metric tons or 2.10 billion bushels.

Talking Points – NAFTA/USMCA for U.S. Grains

  • The U.S. feed grains industry has benefited substantially from NAFTA.
  • Prior to the agreement, Mexico maintained strict controls on grains via licensing requirements and provided guaranteed prices to domestic producers of many field crops, including corn.
  • Under NAFTA, Mexico transitioned to a system featuring duty-free trade with the U.S. and Canada. Rising demand for feed and food has created new opportunities for intraregional trade in grains.
  • Mexico was the top market for U.S. feed grains in all forms, corn, barley/barley products and DDGS in 2018/2019.
    • Corn = a new record for the fifth year in a row in 2018/2019 at 16.1 million metric tons (634 bushels) valued at $2.99 billion
    • DDGS = the largest buyer of U.S. DDGS at 2.02 million metric tons, valued at nearly $416 million
    • Barley = 402,000 metric tons (18.5 million bushels), valued at $217 million, up 2 percent year-over-year
    • Sorghum = the third largest buyer of U.S. sorghum in 2018/2019, jumping to 489,000 metric tons (19.3 million bushels), valued at $90.1 million
  • U.S. grains in all forms exports have increased 309 percent to Mexico since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.
    • Overall, both U.S. corn and U.S. DDGS exports to Mexico have increased nearly 11-fold.
  • Canada set a new record for GIAF imports for the second year in a row in 2018/2019, increasing purchases nearly 10 percent to 8.03 million metric tons (316 million bushels), valued at $3.18 billion.
  • Canada ranked as the second largest buyer of U.S. ethanol and U.S. barley and barley products, the fifth largest buyer of U.S. corn and seventh largest buyer of U.S. DDGS.
  • U.S. grains in all forms sales to Canada have increased 508 percent since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.
    • U.S. corn sales to Canada have increased more than four-fold.

Talking Points – NAFTA/USMCA Over Time

  • Over the past 20 years, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico tripled and quintupled, respectively. One in every 10 acres on American farms is planted to feed hungry Canadian and Mexicans.
  • Canada and Mexico are the United States’ top agricultural export markets, totaling a combined $40 billion in 2018 (USDA).
  • A total of 29 percent of all U.S. farm and food exports went to Mexico and Canada in 2018, supporting well over 300,000 American jobs (USDA).
  • Rising demand for feed and food has created new opportunities for intraregional trade in grains and oilseeds. Poultry and hog producers in Mexico, for instance, often rely on imported feedstuffs as they seek to meet their country’s growing demand for meat.
  • Between 1993 and 2013, the total value of trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico expanded from $16.7 billion to $82.0 billion, an increase of 233 percent when inflation is taken into account, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service.
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the processed food industry across North America translates into additional sales of U.S. agricultural products, further supporting American jobs. In 2012, majority-owned affiliates of U.S. multinational food companies had sales of $32.4 billion in Canada and $13.8 billion in Mexico, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Between 1993-2015, overall trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico quadrupled.

Talking Points – Market Development Programs

  • Both Market Access Program (MAP) funding and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program funding are part of the farm bill.
  • In the 2018 Farm Bill, Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation – an umbrella program for MAP and FMD – was funded at $255 million per year.
  • Of this, $200 million/per year is allocated for MAP, and $34.5 million/year was allocated for FMD.  
  • FMD covers USGC fixed costs overseas including staff and offices. MAP generally covers the programs those staff operate.
  • In addition to maintaining the human infrastructure, having a continual flow of market development funds – today, supplemented by funds from the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) Program – ensures USGC staff can continue aggressively pursuing near-term market opportunities and long-term market development efforts.
  • More about these programs is at