President Donald Trump plans to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “no earlier” than August 16. American agriculture groups that have profited from the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada are nervous about the direction the negotiations will take.
Trump has referred to NAFTA as the “worst trade deal” the U.S. has ever made. He has promised to renegotiate the terms of the agreement, however, rather than axing it. Leaving NAFTA would be too big a “shock to the system,” Trump claimed.
According to a June 2016 Department of Agriculture report, U.S. agricultural exports to NAFTA partners have “more than quadrupled,” from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.6 billion in 2015.
National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) president Craig Uden claimed American beef exports to Mexico increased 750 percent since NAFTA was adopted, in a February op-ed to CNN. Uden called NAFTA “one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry.”
NCBA and two other organizations representing beef cattle producers in NAFTA countries sent a joint letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Trump on May 18, requesting the “terms of the agreement affecting cattle producers … not be altered.”
National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock also expressed support for the trade agreement.
“Exports are one pillar of a strong farm economy, accounting for 31 percent of farmer income,” Spurlock said in a statement. “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.”
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