Investing in rural America’s future

To the editor:

With the negotiations of the 2018 Farm Bill well under way in Congress, it is a good time to think critically about how ensure the prosperity of farm communities, like mine, for years to come.

The future of rural America may lie in an unexpected place: the world’s poor. Foreign Policy Magazine has pinpointed the world’s poor as the largest untapped market on earth. As people transition from barely surviving into being consumers of goods and products, U.S. farmers gain new populations to which they can market their products.

Investment has made Minnesotans valuable trade partners before. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, three of Minnesota’s top export countries (Mexico, Japan, and Korea) were once recipients of U.S. foreign aid. In 2018, trade with poor countries increased significantly. In the first quarter of 2018, exports to Ethiopia, the world’s fastest growing economy, went up by 199 percent. Exports to Libya increased by 284 percent. Exports with Mali went up by 2219 percent.

America should fight to end global poverty for humanitarian reasons. But beyond the humanitarian imperative, for American farmers and businesses to prosper, the U.S. must be globally engaged and investing in transforming poor regions into consumer regions. Currently, less than 1 percent of the federal budget goes to assisting the world’s poor. I urge Senator Smith and Senator Klobuchar to protect and increase the International Affairs Budget. Rural America’s growth and prosperity depends on it.

Molly Dunn