This week, the ag community has been following the situation at the Mexican border closely. Many farm groups and businesses asked President Trump to reconsider closing the border due to the hardships the American farmer is currently facing. This afternoon, Trump announced that he would push off closing the Mexican border for one year — warning that Mexico has a year to reduce the flow of drugs into the United States.
In an exchange with reporters on Thursday, Trump said, ““We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars. … And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation had been urging the administration to make sure that any steps undertaken to tighten enforcement at the U.S. border do not create more uncertainty for agricultural producers.
“We are relieved by the administration’s announcement today that there will not be an immediate closure of our border with Mexico. That is good news for farmers and ranchers on two fronts – trade and access to agricultural workers. Our farm and ranch families continue to face an economic storm that would have become even more severe had the border been closed.
“Our ability to secure workers through the H-2A program is essential to many of our farmers and growers, and we continue to seek additional improvements to help our farmers secure the workforce they need to grow and harvest their crops and tend their livestock. When it comes to trade, Mexico is an essential partner and we will continue to push for congressional approval of the USMCA trade agreement.”
Today’s news comes as a turn around from President Trump’s tweet on Wednesday saying the border would close without any action.
Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2019
The National Farmers Union reiterated the importance of all trade with Mexico. “Each day, the two countries trade $1.6 billion worth of goods, including a large quantity of food and agricultural products. The United States imports 50 million pounds of fresh produce from Mexico per day, including avocados, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and melons.”
“Cutting off all trade would devastate American farmers and ranchers, particularly those who produce dairy, poultry, corn, pork, and soybeans. They would likely also see higher prices for farm equipment, since Mexico supplies 37 percent of imported auto parts to the U.S.”
In addition, DFA was concerned that closing the border could put the future of the USMCA in peril and further strain key trading relationships that are already fragile as a result of recently imposed tariffs.
In a letter to members of the House and Senate, Dairy Farmers of America President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith said, “The dairy industry has worked together closely for more than two decades to grow and strengthen the market for U.S. dairy products in Mexico.”
“We are in the worst rural economic recession since the 1980s,” Smith added. “Our farmer-owners need strong dairy markets, both at home and abroad to recover and continue providing wholesome dairy products for generations to come. The Mexican export market is critical to the longevity of our industry.”