Monday, 18 July 2016


By Anna McConnell

At the summer meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), U.S. governors and international ambassadors focused heavily on trade opportunities and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during a session called Governor Branstad Presents: Feeding and Fueling the World.

It’s not the ability to feed 9 billion that’s a concern; it’s whether or not globally we can act as a team to do it efficiently, according to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

“It boils down to logistics and communication,” says Governor Bevin. “We must be there as governors, communicating with others. There’s no substitute for that face-to-face conversation.”

According to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, other countries should only start worrying about trade when governors stop coming on trade missions.

“From Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, they all have something to say about trade, but the governors are the best indicator,” Governor Walker says.


Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore’s ambassador to the U.S., couldn’t be more supportive of TPP for his country that imports 90% of its food needs and is reliant on trade. With populations continuing to grow in Asia, Ambassador Mirpuri stressed that a critical U.S. market for trade will be in that region.  

“TPP is an economic agreement with very high standards, but it also anchors the U.S.’s role in the region,” says Ambassador Mirpuri. “It builds on everything that the U.S. has achieved and paves the way for the future.”

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval expressed his support for TPP moving forward and cited opportunities for his state to expand its agricultural industry via trade.

This all comes at a time when the presidential campaigns are putting the TPP in a very tentative state.


Many of the governors mentioned trade missions they’d led or been a part of when they spoke of opportunities in agricultural trade. Idaho Governor Butch Otter has led 27 trade missions, himself.

“Trade is a lot more than feeding people, although that’s terribly important,” Governor Otter says. “It’s about relationships.”

If Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has any say, he believes one of our most critical U.S. exports and imports is students. Trading knowledge and sending U.S. students abroad is essential to breaking down cultural barriers and enhancing trade, he says.

“Those ties continue to pay off for us in very tangible ways,” says Governor Nixon says of the 14 trade missions he’s been on with higher education individuals in tow. “I wish I could tell you the hundreds of deals we’ve struck directly because of the trading back and forth of students and their education.”


Sharing technology seems to be a common strategy for advancing trade and the world’s ability to keep everyone adequately fed.

“Trade is critically important and we have an opportunity not just to trade food and fodder, but to trade knowledge and experience,” says Louisiana Governor John Edwards of the trip to Cuba he will make in October. “Folks in Cuba really want access to the information and expertise that we have.”

He’s hoping to resume the trade relationship his state previously had with Cuba until 1959, especially by starting to export milk rice and rough rice to the country.

Highlighting that one U.S. farmer can do jobs that used to take 100 farmers, Utah Governor Gary Herbert believes it’s important to share that technology and research with third world countries to raise yields globally.


Governor Herbert thinks tapping into resources that each state can offer would be a benefit for trade. For instance, the people of Utah speak 130 different languages, which could be a huge asset to communicating globally.

In Louisiana, the Port of South Louisiana is a strong asset to trade, according to Governor Edwards. He is incredibly hopeful about the continued trade opportunities through the port and the ex

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