The Trump administration has officially notified Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Agricultural groups have reacted to the news with caution.
The National Pork Producers Council is urging the president to make sure that tariffs remain at zero for pork traded throughout North America. Tariff-free access to Canada and Mexico last year were worth $799 million and $1.4 billion respectively. “Canada and Mexico are our top export markets,” says NPPC President Ken Maschoff, “and we absolutely must not have any trade disruptions.”
U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers are also hoping for caution in the upcoming negotiations. While the groups welcome the chance to improve the agreement, they oppose changes that would limit benefits to wheat growers, especially in the Mexican food processing industries. American wheat imports began surging in Mexico after NAFTA, and Mexico is now the largest buyer of American wheat. “I cannot emphasize how important our Mexican customers are to U.S. wheat farmers,” says Jason Scott, USW chair.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is also urging the administration not to jeopardize gains made in NAFTA.
The National Farmers Union says the negotiations are a chance to make NAFTA work better for family farmers and ranchers across the country.
National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock urged Lighthizer to remember the interests of U.S. agriculture as they begin modernizing the agreement. “The Trump Administration understands that NAFTA has been an unequivocal success story for American agriculture,” said Spurlock. “Exports are one pillar of a strong farm economy, accounting for 31 percent of farmer income. Nowhere is the importance of trade stronger than right here in North America. Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled and quintupled, respectively. We export billions of dollars of corn and corn products to these countries each year.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a statement: “The American Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, other agricultural groups, and officials in Canada and Mexico to protect these important markets while also addressing issues that have limited the trade potential of U.S. farmers and ranchers. We remain committed to the goal of a positive, market-expanding and modernized NAFTA. Achieving this objective starts with ensuring the negotiations protect U.S. agriculture’s benefits under the current trade agreement.”
Source: NAFB News Service