Clements: Comments sent to the USTR office this week by the American Farm Bureau Federation outline the priorities of farmers and ranchers when it comes to renegotiating NAFTA. AFBF’s Dave Salmonsen says agriculture needs the renegotiation effort to protect current market gains and create new ones.
Salmonsen: The year before NAFTA came into effect and we still had the tariffs and other barriers, U.S. agriculture exported not $8.9 billion to Canada and Mexico. Now in 2016, we exported over $38 billion a year. So, it really shows that getting rid of these barriers, which NAFTA has done, has had an amazing impact on improving ag trade.
Clements: He says the renegotiation effort could improve U.S. dairy trade with Canada, as Canada maintains high tariffs on U.S. dairy and poultry products.
Salmonsen: We’ve made some benefits within the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to get some new access into Canada. Now we want to see at least that replicated in this negotiation and hopefully more. There’s some other issues with Mexico, we’d like greater access for potatoes, there’s some barriers there, some fresh fruits, but we hope those also can get resolved in these NAFTA discussions.
Clements: Salmonsen says other standards that were included in the TPP should also be included in the NAFTA renegotiations to benefit farmers and ranchers.
Salmonsen: The primary one was to make sure all three countries are operating under science-based risk assessment analysis to food safety standards like we do. Also, we want to see included is what’s called a rapid response mechanism, cut through a lot of the red tape if products are held up at borders and get a very quick, within seven days or less, answer to problems and free up shipment. We also have new rules for biotechnology so we can deal with approvals. And, we’re also proposing to have some remedies for sensitive products.
Clements: AFBF looks forward to see what the NAFTA renegotiations bring for the prosperity of American agriculture. Micheal Clements, Washington.
Communications Assistant, AFBF