By Christine Haughney | 11/21/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With Doug Palmer, Megan Cassella, Adam Behsudi, Kaitlyn Burton and Maya Parthasarathy
AG CAN’T SURVIVE NAFTA WITHDRAWAL: As the fifth round of NAFTA talks gets ready to close today in Mexico, the agriculture industry sought to communicate just how harshly it would be affected if a trade deal that is helping struggling sectors survive is terminated.
Just how much does ag depend on NAFTA? Pro Trade’s Doug Palmer reports that Russell Boening, president of the Texas Farm Bureau, told a Senate Finance subcommittee at a field hearing in San Antonio that exports were the saving grace that helped offset a sharp drop in farm income. “Due to the current state of the farm economy, a full withdrawal of the U.S. from NAFTA would devastate the entire agricultural community and our nation,” Boening said. “We must make certain this does not happen.”
Some eye-opening numbers: Boening told Sen. John Cornyn that NAFTA had helped boost U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico to more than $38 billion today, from $8.9 billion in 1993. These sales support 509,000 jobs, and exports drive a fourth of farmers’ incomes.
More pushback against Trump: Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, challenged President Donald Trump’s view of NAFTA as a “disaster” for the United States. “The data is staggering and the verdict is clear: NAFTA has worked as intended,” he said.