The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in two years in the third quarter, thanks primarily to a surge in soybean exports. The Gross Domestic Product increased at a 2.9 percent annual rate after rising at a 1.4 percent pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday. That growth rate was the strongest since the third quarter of 2014 and beat economists’ expectations for a 2.5 percent expansion pace. Not only is this god news for our economy which has been growing at a lackluster rate during most of the Obama administration, but it is a poke in the eye to Clinton, Trump, and all those trade-bashing, labor unions who have been telling us how trade is ruining our economy.
U.S. soybean exports surged to a record 1.936 billion bushels during the 2015/16 marketing year which ended on August 31, as harvests in key competitors Brazil and Argentina were hit by weather problems, forcing importers to buy more U.S. supplies than planned. Administration officials were quick to take credit for this accomplishment. “In this Administration alone, agricultural exports have topped $1 trillion since 2009, far and away the best stretch in our nation’s history. Our farmers and ranchers have also helped to maintain a consistent agricultural trade surplus year after year since the 1960s — a remarkable feat in our global marketplace,” stated Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “In order to continue this momentum, we can and should do more to expand global markets. U.S. farmers are facing unprecedented competition amid a slowing global economy and appreciating dollar.”
So, if growing agricultural products here at home and then selling them around the world helps the U.S. economy grow — which provides jobs that cannot be lost offshore and reduces our trade surplus, then those who want to Make America Great Again should be making this a top priority of their campaign. You would also expect that a former Secretary of State, who has seen first-hand the benefits of agricultural trade, would be willing to stand up for trade policies she once supported instead of sacrificing them on the altar of political expediency. It is the height of irony that just two weeks before election day, we get undisputed proof that trade is good for the U.S. economy.
The truly sad part is nothing will change. Fueled by an uncaring and biased media machine, the two campaigns will continue to lumber toward election day like mindless juggernauts, grinding all facts into dust and smashing aside anything that calls their assumptions into question. The 2016 presidential election will mercifully come to an end on election day, we hope. From the dust of this train wreck, perhaps we can find a way to come together and build policies that are based on facts and economic realities, not political ideologies. In the meantime, thank a U .S. soybean farmer for growing the economy, something neither candidate nor anyone in Congress has been able to do.
By Gary Truitt