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$2 Billion at Stake for U.S. Ag in Trucking Dispute

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 10, 2008 – American agriculture could lose up to $2 billion per year if the U.S. does not meet its commitments to Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement, said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. Speaking today at a press conference with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, Stallman said if Congress halts or impedes the Transportation Department’s Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program, Mexico’s retaliation could be devastating to U.S. agriculture.

AFBF President Bob Stallman speaks about the impact on agriculture if the U.S. does not implement its NAFTA commitment to allow Mexican trucks to transport international cargo inside the United States. To Stallman's right is Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. To Peters' right is John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers and former governor of Michigan. The rest of the group are representatives of agricultural associations. Click on photo for high resolution image.

Mexico brought a NAFTA case against the United States which found that the United States is not in compliance with their obligations on this issue under the agreement. This case gives Mexico the authority to retaliate if efforts are not taken by the U.S. to comply.

“Disruption of the program, which is consistent with U.S. trade obligations under NAFTA, will come at a considerable cost to U.S. agriculture and many other industries,” said Stallman. “Aside from the significant monetary loss, it is estimated that nearly 41,000 U.S. jobs in 17 states could be lost.”

Under NAFTA, Mexican motor carriers are allowed to transport international cargo within the U.S In 2007, DOT announced a small demonstration project to begin implementation of the cross-border trucking provisions. Congress is threatening to halt the pilot program, which could lead to retaliation by Mexico.

The American agriculture industry is particularly vulnerable to retaliation given the growth of U.S. farm exports to Mexico and repeated calls from Mexico’s agriculture sector for restrictions on U.S. food products. Under NAFTA, U.S. food and agriculture exports have more than tripled, climbing from an average $3-4 billion per year prior to NAFTA to more than $12 billion in 2007, making Mexico the second largest export market for U.S. agriculture products.

“The U.S. has made significant strides under NAFTA, including increased export opportunities and the creation of thousands of American jobs,” said Stallman. “Further actions by the U.S. to halt our Mexican truck obligations would only hurt ourselves.”

NAFTA was fully implemented January 1, 2008. The agreement eliminates all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products entering Mexico.

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org
Mace Thornton
(202) 406-3641
macet@fb.org