Marketing Iowa’s products abroad is important

The marketplace for Iowa’s many agricultural and manufacturing products extends well beyond the borders of the Hawkeye State. Increasingly, international sales are an important part of the picture.

That’s why Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig are taking part this month in a trade mission to Colombia and Panama. This undertaking is being led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. It will include representatives of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Midwest Premier Foods.

The goal is to make sure that the availability of Iowa agricultural products is well-understood in these nations and to grow already encouraging trade relationships.

According to information released by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office, our state ranks second in the nation in the export of agricultural products. In 2018, Iowa’s sales abroad totaled $13.2 billion. Keeping that impressive success on track is a key objective of the governor and her team.

Colombia and Panama have great potential to be outstanding markets for our state. In 2018, $80 million in Iowa products were exported to Colombia. With a population of approximately 50 million, that South American nation has a robust economy and is already one of the top 25 trading partners of the United States. Further expanding Iowa’s sales there is both a realistic and exciting prospect. Panama is much smaller but far from insignificant market. That Central American nation has a population about one-third larger than Iowa’s. The possibility of making it a booming venue for the sale of our state’s products is excellent.

Naig said one of his top priorities is “expanding markets for Iowa’s crop farmers, livestock producers, and agribusinesses.”

The lieutenant governor has a message very much in sync with that game plan.

“Trade missions are an important part of strengthening Iowa’s economy,” Gregg said. “They help us open and expand manufacturing and agricultural markets, while simultaneously building upon our international relationships. In a new and fast changing economy, Iowans are connected to the global market.”

Keeping that connection growing is vital to the long-term economic prosperity of our state. We welcome this trade mission. We strongly support the governor’s commitment to making exploration of trade opportunities a key part of her administration’s agenda.