Emerging Trade Policy Issues: The Hard Choices

William H. Meyers
February 1987  [86-WP 3]

Agricultural trade policy has been receiving increased attention in the United States for the last few years. The reason is obvious. After a decade during which the value of agricultural exports grew from $8 billion annually to a peak of nearly $44 billion in 1981, both quantities and values of exports have fallen substantially. Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates project $43 billion in farm exports in 1985. In the long history of U.S. Agriculture, exports have often been a major force in agricultural prosperity and distress. It is a natural tendency therefore, to look at export growth as a solution to the dismal state of the farm economy. Unfortunately, poor export performance is only one of a complex array of factors that have contributed to the current distress in agriculture; and many of these factors are jointly related to macroeconomic policies and performance.

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