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May 9, 2017

What NAFTA Renegotiations Will Mean

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Trade is a major focus for the Trump administration which will be a challenging task as the White House targets the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

President Donald Trump has decided to renegotiate rather than withdraw from NAFTA, much to the relief of farm groups. For many sectors of ag don’t believe they can renegotiate a better trade agreement because Mexico and Canada are top export customers for many U.S. agricultural products.

“When it comes to cattle and beef, we want to be left alone,” said Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “It works well and because of NAFTA, we have two $1 billion markets to both the north and south.”

Mexico is the top market for U.S. corn, although there are some tweaks to NAFTA the feed grain industry would support, such as phytosanitary barriers.

There is also a fear if Trump tries to fix the trade deficit for other products, agriculture would lose ground.

“The way he’s going about it, I worry that we’re going to lose some of the exports that we already have in agriculture both to Canada and Mexico,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.

However, the commodity that might benefit the most from renegotiating NAFTA would be dairy due to Canada’s new pricing strategy.

“To not only cut off exports from the U.S., what little exports we have, but also more importantly they want to dump their skim milk proteins in export markets around the world where it will compete with U.S. exports,” said Chris Galen, senior vice president of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

“We completely gave up power over the Canadians whatsoever in NAFTA,” said Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), a ranking member of the House Ag Committee. “We gave them complete autonomy of their supply management system in dairy and poultry.”

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