In a world where information is omnipresent, agricultural groups like Farm Bureau invest considerable time and effort to provide accurate information on issues agriculture faces. These issues ultimately affect the health and opportunity of all citizens in our communities. This type of advocacy is common across many industries and we feel the story of agriculture is compelling and worth sharing.

We have a saying that, “We feed and clothe the world.” We can confirm this by a statistic coming from the Arizona Department of Agriculture: 70 countries import Arizona crops, commodities, and seeds. The list includes China, Panama, France, Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico.

Fundamentally, this is the essence of agriculture: Produce a product in an area where it is highly efficient to do so and then trade with the other entity for their local fare.

In 2014, the value of Arizona crop exports was approximately $470 million. Meat, dairy, and livestock exports were approximately $335 million. Yuma produces 95% of the world’s broccoli seed and supplies a substantial portion of seed for California produce.

Regarding seed, we export seeds to Colombia, Denmark, Jamaica, Egypt, Italy and many more. AZ grows cotton seed for Texas and the Delta.

Arizona pecans and dates are demanded worldwide because of their size, quality, and flavor.

We export olive oil to Italy and Spain. Even Hickman’s eggs are being consumed in Korea and Mexico.

The Importance of Trade with NAFTA Partner Countries to You and Arizona

Our trade partners through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), primarily Canada and Mexico, are also important to Arizona’s economy.

NAFTA currently is a $21 Trillion regional market with 480 Million consumers. Since NAFTA has gone into effect, the trilateral trade between Canada, the United States, and Mexico has reached $1 Trillion an almost four-fold increase since inception. Canadian trade has doubled under NAFTA.

In 2016, the U.S traded $635 Billion in goods with Canada. Every day $2 Billion of U.S. goods and services cross the northern border. We sell more into Canada than China, Japan and the UK combined. Last year The U.S. exported $3.4 Billion in fruits and nuts and $2.7 Billion in vegetables to Canada. Annually, the average Canadian consumes more than $629 of American agriculture, food, and products.

NAFTA impact on Arizona is a special story too. In 2017, 61% of Arizona’s agricultural exports of $889 million were purchased by NAFTA trading partners: $346 million (39%) by Canada and more than $197 million (%22) by Mexico, according to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Cooperative Extension Economic Impact Analyst team. The Economic Impact Analyst team also highlight how Arizona’s crop exports to NAFTA partner countries has grown since the agreement’s implementation in 1994. From 2002 to 2010 the value of crop exports nearly doubled, to over $600 million in 2017 U.S. dollars. That figure has since fallen and stabilized to around $500 million annually (Figure 1).


Specific crop valued in 2016, some of the Arizona agriculture exported to Canada:

·         $252 Million in vegetables,

·         $76 Million fruits and vegetables,

·         $35 Million packaged food

·         $5 Million dairy products***  

In the same period, Arizona imported from Canada

·         $12 Million in animal feed,

·         $9 Million in chocolate products

·         $6 Million in beef.

More on Mexico

50% of the powdered milk produced at the United Dairymen’s plant in Tempe, Arizona is exported to Mexico.

Live beef cattle cross the border nearly every day in the Nogales Port and are often exported back as finished products. For reference, our cattle ranchers export almost 41% of their product. Our feedlot and ranch industry can fully meet Arizona’s demand for beef and export $281 Million of beef products. By-products from beef sales account for approximately $8 million in exports annually, primarily from leather and hides (97%).

Agriculture operates on a global market and the food you purchase in the store and Farmer’s Markets is the same food being sent around the world to provide sustenance for communities and families.

Exports to NAFTA partners are an important part of Arizona farm income. In 2016 (the most recent data available), Arizona agricultural sales totaled $4.2 billion, with $921 million from lettuce, $721 million from milk, and $677 million from cattle and calves. Exports to NAFTA partners were roughly $500 million, 12% of total state farm cash receipts.

Locally, we accomplish all this while being mindful stewards of our water, environment, communities, and employees.

Editor's note: This article is adapted from a speech given by Nicklaus Kenny during Maricopa County Farm Bureau's springtime Farm/City breakfasts hosted throughout the county. The article includes some newly added figures on exports provided by the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Cooperative Extension Economic Impact Analyst team. 

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