In the U.S., we are blessed with an abundant supply of healthy food, thanks to America's farmers who grow the grain for our bread, flour, vegetable oil - and those muffins at Starbucks.
People in other countries aren't as fortunate. The world needs more grain and American farmers can provide it - but only if the U.S. builds new export facilities, especially on the West Coast, with its closer access to Asian markets.
That's where the Gateway Pacific Terminal comes in.
Montana grain growers already ship 80 percent of their production to the West Coast. Notes Lochiel Edwards, past president of the Montana Grain Growers Association: "Bottlenecks at ports are at the top of the list of issues for us. We welcome increased investment in export capacity."
Markets are changing, as populations around the globe are moving into the middle class. China and India alone are projected to move nearly 300 million people out of poverty to the middle class by 2020. When people improve their standard of living they improve their diet, and more grain is essential to better nutrition. U. S. grain farmers already export 25 percent of what they grow and they can increase that significantly, but only if the U.S. builds more export facilities to handle the increase.
The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture projects that U.S. grain exports will increase 20 percent from 2010 to 2020. The Pacific Northwest is the perfect location to benefit from that growing demand.
Ports in the Pacific Northwest are closer to Asia, so they have an important advantage for our famers serving growing demand there. Washington State leaders and exporters already have many relationships in Asian markets, which more trade would only enhance.
In addition to providing more export capacity, the Gateway Pacific Terminal would add another key advantage: the economy of Capesize ships. The naturally deep water at Cherry Point allows for those larger ships without dredging, so a new shipping terminal there will make U.S. grain farmers more competitive.
Pacific Northwest export infrastructure like Gateway is essential for increased corn, soybean and other grain trade with Asia. The U.S. Grains Council, which develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain, sorghum and related products, believes it is essential to move forward with this critically important project to meet growing export demand for agricultural commodities and create economic growth and jobs both locally and across the United States.
Floyd Gaibler of Washington, D.C., is director of trade policy at the U.S. Grains Council. He spoke in Whatcom County last year.