HURON — South Dakota Leiutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Hunter Roberts spoke to the crowd at the 108th annual South Dakota Farmers Union annual convention Thursday at the Huron Event Center.
The two spoke primarily on their recent trip to Mexico as liaisons for South Dakota agriculture. Rhoden noted that while the scale is significantly different, the concerns of farmers in Mexico are very similar to the concerns of local producers.
“It occurred to me that not only does agriculture transcend state lines, but it transcends international lines,” Rhoden expressed.
“The conversations we had with producers from Mexico were no different than the conversations I’ve had with my next-door neighbor as far as the problems that we face in the world of agriculture.”
Rhoden noted how much of the United States trade depends on our two neighbors, Canada and Mexico.
“It’s fairly well known that roughly 35 percent of our exports go to Canada,” Rhoden explained. “The other part of the story is that our number two trade partner is Mexico. They get roughly 25 percent.”
Noting that those two countries make up more than the total trade the United States has with the rest of the world, Rhoden emphasized the importance of that trade partnership.
After he spoke to the convention, Rhoden connected with the Huron Plainsman to further that discussion.
“Mexico has 132 million people and very little ground that will actually produce a crop,” Rhoden explained, reiterating the point made during the keynote that Mexico’s total farmland for the entire country is less than that of the Dakotas. “When you fly into the country, all you see below you is either city or mountain tops.”
“I’m pretty excited for the state to get into international trade with our trade partners,” Rhoden added.
Rhoden also discussed foreign ownership of agriculture.
“Food security is national security,” Rhoden explained. “If we don’t control the food source, we don’t control our nation. It’s only obvious that we need to control our food source in the United States. For countries such as China to be allowed to purchase ag land unfettered is not supportable.”
A large audience listened intently as S.D. Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden spoke Thursday about the state’s recent trade mission trip to Mexico, at the 108th S.D. Farmer’s Union state convention, held at the Huron Event Center. The convention continues today.