Economic Opportunity

The Benefits of Open Agricultural Trade

July 14, 2016

Recently, Scott Lincicome published a new report for The Heritage Foundation on advancing free trade in agriculture, noting that American agriculture has benefited tremendously from trade liberalization via the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). As Lincicome writes:

 “A survey of economic analyses conducted by the USDA after NAFTA’s full implementation in 2008 found that, compared to what would have occurred without the agreement, NAFTA produced significant gains in U.S. agriculture exports and imports.”

Despite these gains, significant agricultural subsidizes, tariffs, quotas, and regulatory barriers still persist thanks to a coterie of politically influential individuals and businesses profiting off this protectionism.

Moreover, proponents of these programs often justify them on the basis that other countries also have protectionist policies.

However, as Lincicome points out, “The U.S. generally does not subsidize an entire industry just because another country does so. If it did, America’s already unacceptable level of cronyism, protectionism and corporate welfare would skyrocket even further.”

Additionally, he argues that a reduction in U.S. trade barriers would better position the United States to negotiate reductions in foreign trade barriers.