Yesterday, Feb. 6, more than 85 agricultural groups sent an open letter to President Trump highlighting the importance of trade and export markets, specifically Asia, and connecting that to economic vitality in America’s heartland. Among the many signatories are the American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, ConAgra Brands, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association and U.S Grains Council.

In the letter, the groups note that the Asia-Pacific region is the world’s largest market for food and agriculture, and that region is only expected to grow. “Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will help American workers in our sector compete …” they wrote, asking Trump’s Administration to create economic opportunities by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this region.

The authors explain that the food and agricultural industry form farm to fork employs more than 15 million Americans, of which the food and beverage industry alone represents 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs.

According to USGC, the United States has 20 free trade agreements with countries that account for 10 percent of the global economy. Yet, the council reports these deals are the basis for nearly half of America’s exports.

The letter states:  “America’s food and agriculture sector is poised to grow internationally, building upon its well-deserved reputation for high quality products, trusted brands and constant innovation. Our ability to continue to create jobs and support economic growth in rural America depends on maintaining and increasing access to markets outside the United States through existing and future trade agreements. With more than 95 percent of our potential customers living outside our borders, expanding access to international markets is essential for our future success.”

The full letter is available here. In addition, the USGC created an interactive map that shows the value of grain trade.