By Jessica Domel

In just a few short weeks, officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico will sit down to renegotiate a multi-billion-dollar trade deal–the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But what does that mean for you and me? Why does trade matter?

1) Availability. Whether a specific fruit or vegetable is in season in the U.S. doesn’t matter now like it used to. I can walk into the grocery store almost any time of year and buy grapes, avocados, lettuce and tomatoes. Our trade with foreign countries allows stores here to ensure that availability.

2) Variety. There are some foods that simply don’t grow well in our climates, but they thrive elsewhere. Trade enables us to enjoy the fruits of our world neighbors’ labor.

3) Money. Free trade is a driver of the Texas and American economies. In 1993, the U.S. exported $8.9 billion to Mexico and Canada. After years under NAFTA, in 2016, American farmers, ranchers and companies exported $38 billion in goods to Mexico and Canada. That money spurs growth in our economy.

4) Volume. America produces more than we consume of some products. But we don’t produce enough of others. So we trade to ensure U.S. families are able to buy what they need.

5) Standards. Trade deals like NAFTA establish standards for what we buy. There’s a foundation of rules people must meet in order to trade their goods into the U.S. It keeps us safe.

Sure there are other reasons why trade is important. There are also reasons why some trade doesn’t work. But the good news is, those opportunities exist for farmers, ranchers, businesses and people like you and me.