Farmers are Following the NAFTA Negotiations

U.S. farmers exported nearly $40 billion worth of agricultural products to Mexico and Canada last year. And NAFTA is what has made those lucrative markets possible. Minnesota farmers are following the NAFTA negotiations — which enter their fifth month in January — with one eye on their pocketbooks.

Food exports to Canada and Mexico are important money makers for the state’s agricultural economy, but if President Trump withdraws from the trade deal, as he’s threatened to do, farmers say they’ll lose millions. Sales of pork products alone to Mexico and Canada from farms totaled about $200 million last year. Corn and soybeans from Minnesota made for an even bigger share, accounting for nearly a third of the state’s trade with the two nations.

In an interview with MPR News, Minnesota hog producer Randy Randy Spronk said most of the meat from his animals will be sold in the U.S., but overseas sales are becoming an important trade market for him. More and more of his pigs are ending up on dinner tables in Mexico and elsewhere outside the U.S. Spronk is a member of the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s executive committee, and he’s pushing for a solution, not a withdrawal:

The swine industry in the United States exports a quarter of the market hogs that we sell each and every day. What we’re really trying to do is to point out the advantages and the benefits of these free trade agreements. And particularly when it comes to NAFTA, which would be Mexico and Canada. Which are very good customers to rural Minnesota. The fact that the NAFTA countries are still talking is a hopeful sign. But pork producers won’t rest easy until a new deal that protects their interests is finalized. We’ve got the market, we don’t want to lose the market, we want to retain the market