South Dakota participates in international trade summit

Farm Forum

Pierre – South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch recently joined other state agriculture department leaders and their counterparts from Mexico and Canada for a two-day agricultural trade summit as part of the 23rd Annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord in Chicago, Illinois. The Accord represents a longstanding effort among the state and provincial agricultural officials of Canada, the United States and Mexico to work collaboratively on agricultural trade and development issues.

“Canada and Mexico are critical trading partners for U.S. agriculture,” said Secretary Lentsch. “While we have common ground on many trade issues, this summit was a useful opportunity to discuss a path forward on our differences.

Key issues discussed included transportation, pollinators, biotechnology, Country of Origin Labeling, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus and food safety. A communiqué signed by the leader of each country’s delegation outlines the areas of agreement on specific subjects and defines action areas for the coming year. The document will be shared with each country’s’ respective federal agriculture officials.

Secretary Lentsch led discussions on the rail freight service issues that have impacted South Dakota, the Northern Plains states and the central provinces of Canada.

“My U.S. colleagues and our counterparts in Canada and Mexico share my concerns about the transportation challenges experienced by North American agricultural producers,” said Secretary Lentsch. “Critical weaknesses in our transportation system must be addressed. All members of the supply chain must continue to work with federal, state and provincial governments to improve transportation infrastructure.”

The trade summit is hosted by one of the three countries each year. In the U.S., the Accord is hosted through the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The 2015 Tri-National Agricultural Accord will be held in Mexico.