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U.S. farmers support trade at NAFTA discussions

U.S. farmers support trade at NAFTA discussions

Representatives from Farmers for Free Trade attended discussions in Montreal

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

American farmers and NAFTA supporters are in Montreal, Que. to show their support for trade agreements.

“We would like to see the United States aggressively enter into new trade agreements,” Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, an organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for American farmers, said. “We feel very strongly that U.S. agriculture wins when U.S. agriculture can compete. And we can only compete fairly if we have trade agreements.”

At least 10 U.S. states export more than 20 per cent of all their agricultural goods to Mexico and Canada, according to the group.

The United States has already pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If the country abandons NAFTA, future ag exports could be at risk even further.

 “If you look at Texas exports, after China, Mexico is number two in most of those categories,” Scott Frazier, a grain and cattle farmer from Texas associated with Farmers for Free Trade, told reporters during a Friday conference call. “If you take out our number one and number two players, that doesn’t give us many folks to trade with.”

And the timing in which government officials complete these NAFTA negotiations is also of critical importance.

The longer the discussions take, the more opportunities U.S. ag importers have to consider other suppliers.

“Uncertainty is costly,” Darci Vetter, a senior adviser for Farmers for Free Trade and former Chief U.S. Agriculture Negotiator, said during the conference call. “The longer we go without having clarity about the strength of that (trade) relationship with our partners, the more we provide an incentive for those partners to look elsewhere.”