Busting the great ag export myth


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


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!

Previous articleWhat does it take to farm? Numbers
Next articleThe best advice I ever received
Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com