Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As NAFTA negotiations get to farm products, agricultural leaders speak up

As the North American Free Trade Agreement is renegotiated at President Trump's behest, American farmers want to make sure the administration knows how much the treaty has helped them. "U.S. farm leaders turned up the volume in the debate over the new NAFTA, worried that the success story of food and ag exports isn't being heard among the clamor for tougher U.S. trade rules," Chuck Abbott reports for Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said during a recent teleconference, "We have to be a player in the trade arena so we can move our product out of the country and feed the world." This round of negotiations is expected to be the first to focus on trade in agricultural commodities.

Those who favor NAFTA as it is have reason to worry. Trump said in an interview with Forbes that the U.S. would need to withdraw from NAFTA in order to negotiate better trade deals. And U.S Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue said in a speech in Mexico yesterday that "There are several poison-pill proposals … that could doom the entire deal." Phil Levy of Forbes writes, "These include measures such as a 'sunset clause' that would terminate NAFTA after five years unless there was unanimous agreement that it should continue. Or new restrictive rules of origin, dictating which cars would qualify as ‘North American’ for tariff preferences."

Two groups representing wheat farmers, U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers, are bucking the trend, favoring withdrawal from NAFTA so the U.S. can negotiate better deals. "The head of U.S. Wheat said there have been no new trade agreements for a decade 'and zero additional market access for wheat farmers,'" Abbott reports.

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