As North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) re-negotiations continue, farmers are growing increasingly concerned about the possibility President Donald Trump will pull out of the deal. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue attempted to ease farmer concerns this week at the Ag Retailers Association meeting in Phoenix.
“I don’t know what will happen with NAFTA,” he said. “I do believe the President wants a deal. He’s a tough negotiator, and if you’ve read his book, the Art of the Deal, he’ll take it to the brink sometimes. He knows the power of the ag economy, and he wants a growing, thriving healthy ag economy.”
Still farmers from across the country fear the massive tariffs on agriculture that could be the result of the U.S. no longer participating in NAFTA.
For South Dakota farmer Jim Jibben pulling out of NAFTA is a scary thought. “I know that if we would return to the pre-NAFTA time period, I keep hearing about tariffs,” he told AgriTalk host Mike Adams. “Man, a 27% [tariff] on beef exports to Mexico, 25% on wheat and a tariff possibly on corn, which we don’t have now, that kind of scares me. I’m not real optimistic that we’re going to really get what we want out of these negotiators.”
According to Rob Elliott from Illinois, losing NAFTA would be a problem. “I think we all have to be concerned,” he told Adams. “For those of us in agriculture these are very important trading partners right beside us. To monkey around and affect that, probably to the downside, is a problematic factor for us. As Mexico and Canada begin to seek out other alternatives if we take too strong of a stance and throw up a wall that keeps us from doing trade like we’ve known it for many years.”
California farmer Joe Del Bosque also has concerns about losing NAFTA. “We have a lot of crops that are exported to Mexico and Canada,” he explained to Adams. “We’ve had trading partners [there] for a long time, and we’ve been developing these markets over several years. We would hate for this to cause problems and cause those partners to go elsewhere.”