The dynamics in Washington, D.C., pose challenges for trade, but trade will soon become a priority, Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president of policy and trade issues for Informa Economics, told more than 300 attendees at the U.S. Grains Council's 49th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in San Diego, Calif.

He said "both political parties have turned protectionist." He cited many examples of protectionism such as the "Mexican trucking issue." However, Wiesemeyer did offer his perspective on areas of optimism for U.S. agricultural trade.

"NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) will not be renegotiated and will stay the successful agreement it has proved to be to-date. A Doha agreement will occur only if the leaders of this country want it to. It has to come from the very top," he said. "Another agreement that I hope will get some attention is South Korea. This pending trade agreement is the big kahuna. You cannot get more win-win than a free trade arrangement with South Korea. I hope we can get through this."

Wiesemeyer said the U.S./Panama free trade agreement pending approval from Congress may be approved this year, which will yield many benefits for U.S. farmers and all of U.S. agriculture.

"I also see shades of hope in Cuba. There are positive steps taking place to move towards a good trade relationship with Cuba. This would be a huge win for U.S. agriculture and this economy," he said.

Wiesemeyer said U.S. agriculture will be the "shining star" for the U.S. economy in the future as the global population increases and the global middleclass population is expanded.

Source: U.S. Grains Council