The Trump Administration’s renegotiation of NAFTA with Mexico is getting cheers from the agricultural industry as well as optimism for more trade deals to come.
The American Soybean Association said the renewal of the North American Free Trade Agreement is looking more promising after President Trump announced that the U.S. and Mexico have reached an “understanding” regarding sensitive bilateral issues. That news also opens the door for Canada to return to the table and move the trilateral agreement one step closer to ratification.
“We need NAFTA and new free trade agreements to build and ensure the certainty of our markets for soy and livestock product exports. Approval of NAFTA would be a big step in the right direction for us, with the uncertainty and market loss resulting from China’s tariff on U.S. soybeans,” said American Soybean Association (ASA) President John Heisdorffer, a soy grower from Keota, Iowa. “We are hopeful that a new NAFTA agreement will set the tone for more trade agreements to come.”
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, representing the voice of milk across the Midwest, cheered the announcement. While full text of the deal has not yet been announced, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has indicated that it would maintain zero tariffs on dairy and all other agricultural products and create standards for geographical indication. Mexico also agreed to not restrict market access for commonly named U.S. cheeses.
“This is terrific news. No country imports more of our dairy products than Mexico. The prospect of losing that market has caused a lot of anxiety over the past several months. Let’s face it, these are tough times for dairy farmers — tough enough even without all the uncertainty created by trade wars. So, we should celebrate this for the major step forward that it is and give the administration credit for making it happen,” said Brody Stapel, president of Edge who farms in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. “We should also encourage the administration to capitalize on this momentum in our negotiations with Canada and other existing and potentially new trading partners. Our dairy farmers want access to new international markets, and we don’t want to lose the good ones we already have.
“We’ll continue to work hard to make sure officials at U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as well as our members of Congress know what is at stake for the dairy community.”
Michigan Farm Bureau President, Carl Bednarski, a Tuscola County cash-crop farmer, called the news of an agreement a significant break-through, but cautioned that considerable work remains to bring Canada back to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiating table as well.
“NAFTA has proven very beneficial to Michigan agriculture, representing $128 million in exports to Mexico in 2017, and an additional $951 million in exports to Canada,” Bednarski said. “So we hope this announcement will motivate a much quicker resolution on negotiating a satisfactory trade agreement with Canada.”