The United States relies on its agricultural exports rather heavily. In fact, agricultural exports bring in about $139.8 billion in value to the United States every year. While many Americans don’t realize it, Mexico is actually a major market for U.S. agricultural exports. Southwestern states like Texas have large agricultural industries, and exports from these states to Mexico are growing fast.
In fact, between 1997 and 2016, agricultural exports to Mexico more than doubled from $4.5 billion to $17.8 billion.
According to Agri Life Today, one-third of all farm income in the United States comes from exports. Dr. Luis Ribera, director of the Center for North American Studies in College Station, reports on this issue.
“Mexico is the No. 1 market for corn, rice and wheat, also one of our top export markets for sorghum and pecans. Mexico is also one of our top chicken-meat export markets,” Ribera recently said in a presentation to the Texas Ag Forum in Austin, Texas.
While grain and livestock are the primary agricultural products exported to Mexico today, the country is also a huge contributor to U.S. dairy exports too.
Every year, the typical United States household spends 6.3% of their income on food. Compared to food spending around the world, 6.3% is actually incredibly low, Ribera says. That’s because food trade between the United States and Latin America goes both ways, and U.S. consumers benefit from cheap produce and other food products lining grocery store shelves. Fresh produce, like avocados and greenhouse tomatoes, are some of the most common imports that the United States receives from Mexico.
Ribera believes it’s important to understand these relationships as politicians debate the merits of trade agreements like NAFTA.
“Regarding North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations,” Ribera said, “the U.S. has a lot of bargaining power since it holds roughly 25 percent of the world’s money and consumers spend just 6.3 percent of incomes on food.”