Smith: As the administration begins negotiations to update NAFTA, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, a member of the AFBF Trade Advisory Committee, says the administration’s objectives will maintain and build on the gains NAFTA has brought U.S. agriculture.
Nelson: NAFTA has been very beneficial to farmers and ranchers across the country and in Nebraska as well. We’ve seen annual exports to Mexico and Canada grow from approximately $8.9 billion in 1993 to over $38 billion in 2016, so that really tells a big story about how important this trade agreement has been for producers all across the United States.
Smith: While the agreement has been an overall boon to U.S. agriculture, Nelson says that modernizing NAFTA could address some issues for farmers and ranchers.
Nelson: Continued elimination of some of the tariffs, particularly as it relates to Canada on dairy, poultry, and eggs, would be an area we would like to look at. We’d also like to take a look at some of the areas that relate to geographical indicators and biotechnology that could be revised in the NAFTA agreement. There’s a lot of things that have changed in the last 20 years, particularly as it relates to new technologies, so we need to make sure that the trade agreement takes those kinds of things into consideration.
Smith: Nelson says when barriers are removed and the playing field is leveled on both sides of the borders, trade improves and each country involved benefits.
Nelson: That’s really what we want to continue to see in the future is a trade agreement that’s good for both sides. So, we will continue as we work with negotiators and as we work with the administration to take another look at NAFTA, that we may make sure that we protect the good things that we have in NAFTA and look at those things we can improve to make NAFTA a better trade agreement.
Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.
Communications Assistant, AFBF