WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump Administration released its objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) today and U.S. wheat farmers, who are facing low prices and increasingly aggressive wheat exporting competitors, are encouraged to see that the interests of agriculture are an important part of the Administration’s priorities.
“Because NAFTA helped make Mexico one of the most important export markets for U.S. wheat, our main priority right now is to do no harm to wheat trade,” said David Schemm, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, Kan. “We are happy to see that the objectives call for maintaining existing reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods. Mexican buyers import more of the wheat my neighbors and I grow than any other country and we can’t afford to risk interrupting that positive relationship with our customers.”
Wheat farmers agree with the Administration that renegotiation can set the stage for a stronger NAFTA and set standards for trade agreements going forward. A good place to start is with the updated rules on sanitary and phytosanitary health and safety standards that the three countries already agreed to as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation.
“The United States, Canada, and Mexico are all strong advocates of free trade and science-based regulations,” said Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “We should go big in this negotiation and agree to align around those gold standard rules. That will ensure that all three countries can’t throw out regulations that are just flimsy excuses to restrict trade.”
NAWG and USW also want to see a change in Canada’s restrictions on cross-border trade.
“We believe wheat should be allowed to cross the border and be treated equally,” Miller said. “Today Canadian wheat can move into our handling system freely, but U.S. wheat farmers don’t have the same opportunity in Canada. NAFTA renegotiation is a good context with which to address this issue.”
USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 18 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit our website at www.uswheat.org.
NAWG is the primary policy representative in Washington D.C. for wheat growers, working to ensure a better future for America’s growers, the industry and the general public. NAWG works with a team of 20 state wheat grower organizations to benefit the wheat industry at the national levels. From their offices in the Wheat Growers Building on Capitol Hill, NAWG’s staff members are in constant contact with state association representatives, NAWG grower leaders, Members of Congress, Congressional staff members, Administration officials and the public.
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