Former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman couldn’t stop for a cup of coffee in farm and ranch country without waxing romantically on how “1 in 4 acres of American farm production is exported.”
Her replacement, Secretary Mike Johanns, a trained technocrat, often makes the same point with more precision. “Twenty-seven percent of U.S. farm receipts come from trade,” Johanns told a May 8 Chicago luncheon crowd.
The trouble with Veneman’s oversimplified number and Johanns’ overcooked number is that both are wrong, wrote Ed Maixner in the April 28 issue of the Kiplinger Agricultural Letter.
Measure by value. The actual “value” of ag exports to farmers and ranchers, noted Maixner, Kiplinger’s editor, is neither 27 percent nor 25 percent. “Analysis shows the portion is 8 percent,” he explained, when “measured by value