Food and Ag coalition voices support for NAFTA preservation and modernization

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / ronniechua
© Getty Images / ronniechua

Related tags North american free trade agreement

A new coalition of over 30 organizations representing growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers has announced it will work with the Trump Administration and Congress to preserve and modernize NAFTA, noting that withdrawal from the deal would be devastating to the US food and agricultural sectors.

The Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF)​ coalition notes that food and agriculture exports have more than quadrupled since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)​ took effect in 1994. They currently account for 25% of American exports. American food and agriculture supports more than 20% of the US workforce and provides more manufacturing jobs than any other sector. In addition, NAFTA has helped keep grocery prices down for all Americans.

“Farm Belt voters supported President Trump by a three-to-one margin in the last election and they are counting on President Trump to improve NAFTA in the modernization negotiations,”​ said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association and a member of AFF’s leadership committee.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say many farmers are still farming today because of NAFTA. We know that President Trump has a lot of experience negotiating good deals. We support him in updating and improving NAFTA.”

AFF leadership committee member Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council, added: “Canada and Mexico represent the second and third largest markets for US agriculture. A modernized NAFTA is critical to the prosperity of rural America.”

“Withdrawal would be devastating”

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to walk away from NAFTA, with pessimistic reports emanating from Canadian government officials last week​ and the Washington Post​ reporting in December that Mexico is looking across the Atlantic to Europe and beyond for free-trade allies.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters that Trump​, “probably left the campaign trail literally believing that NAFTA had not been good for any sector of the economy … [but] I think that he has now come to realize that agriculture has been benefited by a NAFTA agreement.”

A spokesperson for the coalition told us: “Withdrawal would be devastating, particularly for the farm belt voters who supported President Trump by a 3 to 1 margin. But we are hopeful President Trump will understand the impact this would have on his core supporters and work to make the agreement better.”

“We want to see NAFTA modernized and preserved overall to ensure that the 43 million American jobs supported by food and AG continue to thrive,” ​added the spokesperson.

NAFTA is credited with helping the food and agricultural industries to grow to support more than 43 million jobs. NAFTA has opened markets to America’s farmers, grown domestic jobs and supported $127 billion in annual economic activity, stated the coalition in a release. Fruit and vegetable exports alone from the United States to Canada and Mexico have more than tripled under NAFTA

Educational campaign

AFF will launch a “robust educational campaign” to highlight the positive impact of NAFTA.

“We look forward to being active participants in this discussion as we ensure the growers, producers, processors, transporters, retailers and consumers we represent have their voices heard,”​ added Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association and another member of AFF’s leadership committee. “This issue is simply too important for us to sit on the sidelines.”

 To read our article from last year that examined a broader food and ag ‘wish list’ for NAFTA 2.0, please click HERE​.

Related topics Regulation Mexico