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U.S. agricultural trade in the 1970s: progress and problems

  • Agricultural Science
  • Economics
  • Political Science


U.S. Agricultural Trade in the 1970s: Progress and Problems By Richard K Abrams and C. Edward Harshbarger One of the most significant economic developments in agriculture during the 1970s has been the sharp expansion in international trade. U.S. agricultural exports have shown remarkable growth in recent years, as the American farmer has been transformed into an international producer of food and fiber. At the same time, U.S. consumers have continued to demand the agricultural products of foreign countries and, as a result, agricultural imports have also grown rapidly. While agricultural trade has expanded very sharply during the past decade, it still remains below levels that would have existed in the absence of trade restrictions. Actions taken by governments to protect domestic industries and to provide for national security by supporting an inefficient agricultural sector reduce trade levels and distort international trade patterns. Obviously, the economic goal of free trade is not universally accepted, even in the United States. Nevertheless, the events of the past decade have demonstrated that U. S. agriculture has become inextricably involved Richard K Abrams is a3nancial economist and C. Edward Harshbarger is assistant vice pres- ident and economist, both with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. with the international market, and that this involvement will likely increase in the future. This article reviews recent developments in agricultural trade. Special attention is given to some of the methods that are used to distort trade patterns. In addition, the agreements in the recent round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN) are discussed in terms of the implications for future trade expansion. U.S. AGRICULTURAL TRADE DEVELOPMENTS In the last decade, U.S. agricultural exports have more than quadrupled, rising from $6.7 billion in fiscal 1970 to $27.3 billion in fiscal 1978 (Table 1). Since 1970, exports have increased m

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