By Daniel Rothberg
Visit an alfalfa farm in central Nevada, and you will hear about China and Saudi Arabia.
The two countries are big buyers of Western hay. Last year, a Saudi dairy company picked up land in Arizona and California, the Associated Press reported. The farm grows hay that can then be shipped back to feed cattle in the parched Middle East nation. In recent years, China’s dairy demand has grown, and with it, the country has shown an increasing interest in Western hay.
The world is interconnected, and events on one part of the globe can often have ripple effects on local economies that export crops or minerals. Prices could slip. Prices could spike. This is a reality for several Nevada counties, where dominant industries include mining and agriculture. In fact, two Nevada counties — Eureka and Lander – are among the most export-dependent counties in the U.S., according to an analysis by Pew Research Center.
“It doesn’t surprise me that some of these rural areas are highly dependent on exports,” said Sheldon Mudd, executive director of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority.
The Trump administration has pledged to renegotiate free trade agreements, like NAFTA, and pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement with Asia. Pew’s analysis suggested that export-dependent counties, which tend to be in rural areas, could be most affected by changes to these agreements. Until the administration comes out with more specifics, Mudd said it will be difficult to tell how revised trade deals might affect rural Nevada.
“Until we see those details, we can guess all day long,” he said.
Still, Mudd emphasized the importance of diversifying rural economies that might be heavily dependent on one or two industries. It is important, he said, to hedge against market trends.
Pew’s analysis relied on data from the Brookings Institution. In its Export Monitor 2017 report, Brookings looked at exports as a percentage of county-level gross domestic product. The Brookings report also quantified exports by industry and how they have changed over time.
To get a better understanding of where these counties stand and the extent to which they are dependent on exports, the Nevada Independent reviewed and analyzed the Brookings data set:
Read the rest of the story at thenevadaindependent.com.