Trade: Responsibility on the World Stage
What is our global responsibility?
Trade between different groups of people develops when each has something the other wants. When Europeans arrived, American Indians traded furs for blankets, iron pots and firearms they could not make themselves. The first Midwestern American settlers moved beyond self-sufficiency quickly, feeding corn to hogs and shipping pork to eastern cities. Iowa farms became a food basket for the world, producing corn, soybeans as well as meat and shipping it around the world.
Iowa and Global Trade
Agricultural products and farm equipment are Iowa’s top exports. In 2019, Iowa was the second largest exporter of U.S. farm goods. Corn, pork and soybeans top the list of farm products. With the insatiable demand for energy, fuels produced from plant corn and soybeans (ethanol, biodiesel, etc.) have moved toward the top of the list of Iowa’s most valuable exports in dollars. Iowa ranks in the middle of states for manufactured goods. Tractors, combines and other farm machines are also major Iowa exports.
In 2019, Canada purchased $4.2 billion in Iowa products, followed by Mexico at $2.3 billion. Japan and China were third and fourth. Tensions and trade barriers between nations can greatly impact a country’s ability to buy and sell goods. Crop harvests in far-away countries like Brazil and Australia can impact prices for Iowa farmers. Automobiles account for a huge share of the dollars Iowans spend on foreign products. China, Mexico, Germany and Japan sell cars and car parts that end up on Iowa highways, but Canada is the overall top exporter to Iowa.
Trade Brings New Iowans
Iowa has also “imported” people. In the mid-19th century, immigrants from Northern Europe countries, like Germany and Ireland, flowed onto the Iowa prairies to establish farms, small towns, and river cities along the Mississippi. Toward the end of the century, there was a shift to southern and eastern Europe with the draw of work in the coal mines and meat packing plants.
Wars of the 20th century displaced families who looked to Iowa for refuge. In 1975, Gov. Robert Ray organized a resettlement program for refugees from Southeast Asia. He encouraged churches and other non-profit groups to sponsor families to find housing and employment and to learn English. Those who were fleeing wars in Bosnia and several African countries also arrived in Iowa. Immigrants from Mexico and a number of Latin and South American countries came to Iowa seeking employment, such as in meatpacking plants. Marshalltown, Sioux City, Perry and other towns came to have sizable populations of Spanish speakers.
Iowa may be in the middle of the country, but it is indeed part of a global world. It both buys and sells products on the world market. Its people reflect diverse ethnicities. Around the world, when people think of Iowa, they think farms, but Iowa is much more.
What is fair trade?
- "What is Fair Trade?" Date Unknown (Document)
- Edna Ruth Byler, 1968 (Image)
- Fair Trade Coffee House, 2004 (Document)
- “Worldly Goods Brings unique, fair trade products to Ames,” September 26, 2010 (Document)
- Artisan Herlinda Artola Creates Textile Art in Peru, 2016 (Image)
- Artisan Daniel Doku Makes a Wind Chime from Recycled Glass in Ghana, Date Unknown (Image)
- Constitution of Fair Trade, September 23, 2018
- “My Oma and Me — Building Bridges with Art,” March 12, 2019 (Document)
- My Fair Trade, September 3, 2019 (Image)
- Open Letter from a Certified Fair Trade Farm in Amado, Arizona, Date Unknown (Document)
How does the United States build relationships with other countries?
- Iowa Farmer Feeds Bershire Pigs, ca 1952 (Image)
- Operation "Noah's Ark" for Korea, ca 1952 (image)
- "Operation Pig Lift" Newspaper Article, August 1952 (New Magazine)
- Berkshire Piglets in Korea, 1954 (Image)
- "Iowa's Peace Tradition" Excerpt from The Goldfinch, September 1991 (Document)
- "Iowa Peace Heroes- Helping Victims of War" Excerpt from The Goldfinch, September 1991 (Document)
- Iowa's Peace Heroes-Fighting Hunger" Excerpt from The Goldfinch, September 1991
How has Iowa accepted refugees to the state?
- Children Participating in a Migrant Education Program in Mason City, Iowa, ca. 1960 (Image)
- Vietnamese Refugees Arrive in Iowa, 1975 (Image)
- Adult ESL Class in Houston, Texas, June 10, 1982 (Image)
- Governor Robert Ray Talks about "The Right Thing to Do" form Iowa PBS, 2007 (Video)
- Governor Robert Ray Talks about "Iowan's Open Their Hearts" from Iowa PBS, 2007 (Video)
- “Remarkable Refugee” from Iowa PBS, 2007 (Video)
- Galleria de Paco Restaurant in Waterloo, Iowa, August 17, 2016 (Image)
- “Nearly 1000 Refugees Have Settled in Iowa So Far This Year” from Iowa Public Radio, October 7, 2016 (Audio Recording)
- “In Iowa, Liberian Couple Reaches Out to Fellow African Refugees” Article, February 2, 2019 (Document)
- “New Iowan: Mihnet” from Iowa PBS, Date Unknown (Video)
- “Sponsoring a Refugee Family” Pamphlet from Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, Date Unknown (Document)
|Trade: Responsibility on the World Stage Source Set Teaching Guide|
|Printable Image and Document Guide|
"What is Fair Trade?" Date Unknown
Edna Ruth Byler, 1968
Fair Trade Coffee House, 2004
"Worldly Goods Brings unique, fair trade products to Ames," September 26, 2010
Artisan Herlinda Artola, Painting with wool, Date Unknown
Artisan Daniel Doku, making a wind chime from recycled glass, Date Unknown
Constitution of Fair Trade at the University of Iowa, September 23, 2018
"My Oma and Me–Building Bridges with Art," March 12, 2019
My Fair Trade, September 3, 2019
Open Letter from a Certified Fair Trade Farm in Amado, Arizona, Date Unknown
Iowa Farmer Feeds Berkshire Pigs, ca. 1952
Operation “Noah’s Ark” for Korea, ca. 1952
Operation "Pig Lift", 1952
Berkshire Piglets in Korea, 1954
“Iowa’s Peace Tradition” Excerpt from The Goldfinch, September 1991
“Iowa Peace Heroes - Helping Victims of War” Excerpt from The Goldfinch, September 1991
“Iowa Peace Heroes - Fighting Hunger” Excerpt from The Goldfinch, September 1991
Children Participating in a Migrant Education Program in Mason City, Iowa, ca. 1960
Vietnamese Refugees Arrive in Iowa, 1975
Adult ESL Class in Houston, Texas, June 10, 1982
Governor Robert Ray Talks about “The Right Thing To Do” from Iowa PBS, 2007
- Video resource
Governor Robert Ray Talks about “Iowans Open Their Hearts” from Iowa PBS, 2007
- Video resource
“Remarkable Refugee” from Iowa PBS, 2007
- Video resource
Galleria de Paco Restaurant in Waterloo, Iowa, August 17, 2016
“Nearly 1000 Refugees Have Settled in Iowa So Far This Year” from Iowa Public Radio, October 7, 2016
“In Iowa, Liberian Couple Reaches Out to Fellow African Refugees” Article, February 2, 2019
“New Iowan: Mihnet” from Iowa PBS, Date Unknown
- Video resource
“Sponsoring a Refugee Family” Pamphlet from Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, Date Unknown
- Zakery's Bridge: Children's Journeys from Around the World to Iowa by Kay Fenton Smith and Carol Roh Spaulding.
This children’s book focuses on nine children who share their family stories of immigrating to Iowa. Each journey begins in a different county.
- Fair Trade Pioneer: Edna Ruth Byler by Sumaya Steele
This biography highlights the life of Edna Ruth Byler and her work to support free trade.
- Ten Thousand Villages
Find out the history of the Ten Thousand Villages organization that focuses on promoting the work of international artisans.
- “A World of Good: Retailer Ten Thousand Villages has been a pioneer in fair trade, ethical practices”
This article focuses on the work of Ten Thousand Villages, which has been a pioneer in fair trade and ethical practices.
- Fair Trade Campaigns: “How the University of Iowa Became the First Fair Trade University in the Big Ten”
This blogpost details the process that the University of Iowa became one of the first universities to commit to fair trade.
- Sierra Club: Support the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act of 2009
This letter was written in support of the TRADE Act in 2009 by the Sierra Club, a prominent conservation organization.
- Iowa Folklife: Our People, Communities and Traditions
This website highlights examples of folklife throughout the state and provides a learning guide to teachers.
- “Open Arms in Iowa Concludes: Different Era For Refugees In Iowa”
This interview is with former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who gives his perspective regarding refugees coming to Iowa.
- “Refugee Communities Seek Out Iowa To Put Down Roots”
This story from Iowa Public Radio highlights how two groups worship separately in their own primary languages, but come together, praying and singing in multiple languages, with interpretation provided by church members.
- “Fields of Opportunities”
This article from the Iowa Center for Advancement reflects on a new humanitarian crisis, and Iowans sharing their perspectives on life as a refugee.
- Library of Congress: Day Day interview
This Library of Congress audio highlights Day Day’s life at a refugee camp in northwestern Thailand in 1991 until he followed friends to Waterloo, Iowa, and began work in a Tyson pork plant. He looks forward to the possibility of someday taking what he had learned in the United States (and in the U.S. labor movement) back to Burma to assist the people there.
- “The Iowa Derecho Put Refugee Food Workers at Even Greater Risk”
This article highlights the hardships of refugees who work in meat packing plants during the pandemic and while surviving the 2020 Iowa derecho, a powerful storm that ripped through the state.
- “Moving Beyond Graffiti,” “This isn't your typical downtown renaissance” and “No Boundaries”
These three articles share additional information about Paco Rosic.
- 10 Questions for Young Changemakers
The 10 Questions for Young Changemakers is a project within the Democratic Knowledge Project (DKP).
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (5th Grade)
Listed below are the Iowa Core Social Studies content anchor standards that are best reflected in this source set. The content standards applied to this set are middle school-age level and encompass the key disciplines that make up social studies for fifth-grade students.
No. Standard Description SS.5.14. Explain how various levels of government use taxes to pay for the goods and services they provide. SS.5.15. Explain how trade impacts relationships between countries.