Clements: The NAFTA renegotiations provide an opportunity to improve agricultural trade across partner countries. However, recent rhetoric and delays in the renegotiation are giving way to rising concerns over the trade deal’s future. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says U.S. agriculture depends on NAFTA.
Hurst: We hope we’ll see progress in the NAFTA renegotiations. There’s obviously progress that can be made, phytosanitary problems at the border, improvement with our trade in dairy with the Canadians But, 70 percent of Missouri farmers' exports go to either Canada or Mexico, we depend on this trade agreement.
Clements: He says recent rhetoric regarding trade is troubling to farmers, especially after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who understands NAFTA’s positive impact on agriculture, has publicly expressed concern about the trade agreement’s future.
Hurst: That’s something that will keep you up at night. And, I know Secretary Perdue is a very smart and a very capable leader of agriculture and we are happy to have him where he is, but if he’s that concerned, then I’m really concerned.
Clements: Withdrawal or failure to reach an agreement for NAFTA, Hurst says, would result in an economic disaster for agriculture.
Hurst: Tariffs on our exports to Mexico for example are zero, they would go up to an average of 15 percent. So, you see a 15 percent price increase and you’re going to see a probably less than 15 percent drop in demand, but maybe not, maybe its greater than that. You start talking about a 15 percent decline in already unprofitable prices and your talking about an economic emergency in agriculture.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.