GUEST BLOG: Letter from Alex McGregor, The McGregor Company, on the Importance of Trade

Together, as wheat growers and all the businesses that serve farm families, we must speak out with a sense of urgency and passion!

Hi, I’m Alex McGregor of The McGregor Company, a seventy- year old family fertilizer and crop protection enterprise, and of McGregor Land and Livestock, a ranch where we have raised wheat and livestock since pioneer days.

I first became involved in political advocacy thirty-three years ago in 1985, the days when wheat was piled everywhere, interest rates were high, and challenges were aplenty. I was asked by Rep. Tom Foley to testify before Congress, a big deal for a young guy.  It went okay until I was challenged by an irascible Senator from the rust belt about why I was so focused on wheat exports and knew so little about the challenges of the steel industry. I was apoplectic but then said to myself, ‘Alex, you don’t have to take that. Remember, you were in the top four of your graduating class at Hooper School!’ It was a class of four in a two- room country school, to be sure. But that bit of levity broke the spell for me and I vowed to help give ‘em both barrels every chance I got.

There have been many opportunities and I’ve done my best to speak out on behalf of the people with the real clout—dedicated farm families—ever since. The growers we serve have done their part over the years speaking out on farm bills, trade, crop insurance and I’ve been encouraging them every step of the way. Last month, as I visited about the farm bill and trade at our winter agronomy meetings, 840 growers joined me in a letter urging our Inland PNW Members of Congress to push for action in rebuilding deteriorating relationships with the overseas customers who consume 90% of the wheat we grow. We’re working hard to use their clout to make the case every way we can. Today the issues are more crucial than they’ve been since back in the eighties when we were awash with wheat and high-interest money.

We need—each of us who raise wheat and darned sure those of us who serve wheat growers, too–to get Congress to urge the Administration to rejoin TPP and to keep vibrant NAFTA and KORUS, with South Korea. NAWG and US Wheat, and our state associations, have spoken out often and forcefully about how our walking away from TPP threatens to have “a devastating impact on rural communities across the wheat belt and … hurt the incomes of every farmer growing wheat.” As Chandler Goule of NAWG urges, we must “get off the sidelines and get back in the business of negotiating new trade agreements!”

It’s time for all of us to speak out, and to speak out now, with so much at stake. Like the farm families we serve, I hope each of us will email or call our Senators and Representatives and the Administration to tell why, in our own words, we can ill afford in very challenging times to put at risk trade relationships that have been so jugular to farm families.

It’s all hands-on deck, in my view, and we need to be urging those who serve wheat families—our insurance broker, our accountant, our banker, fertilizer dealer, crop protection manufacturer, everyone associated with agriculture—to speak out with passion and determination. When we all pull together we get things done. I remember one visit to USDA headquarters where a cynical department lead told us the chance of getting action was “between Slim and none and Slim just left town.” Together we got results and proved the pessimists wrong and together we’ve done so many times.

Together in 2018 we have the horsepower to help turn the tide back toward free and fair trade.  From the perspective of a guy whose resume includes being in the top four of his graduating class from a rural school, that’s how I see it. The stakes are high.  Let’s make it happen!


Alex McGregor