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AFBF Host NAFTA Meetings

NAFTA Meeting Resume on Wednesday in Washington

Washington—The American Farm Bureau Federation is hosting trade meetings this week in Washington, D.C.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement has helped America’s farmers and ranchers make significant gains in US Agriculture exports to Canada and Mexico,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. 

Duvall thinks the administration’s negotiating objectives for the agreement will maintain and improve agricultural trade with our nearest trading partners. 

"We look forward to expanding our market opportunities with our North American neighbors even further by bringing this agreement into the 21st century,” added Duvall.

The Farm Bureau met with counterparts from Canada and Mexico to discuss all of the North American Free Trade Agreement trade issues last week. AFBF trade specialist Dave Salmonsen says the meeting shows a unified voice across the NAFTA partners on agriculture issues.

“We think it’s very important that among all the countries, that industries can come together,” said Salmonsen. “And agriculture has seen the benefits across the board in all three countries. So, they came together to say this is an important part of our economy and we want to see the gains we’ve gotten from this preserved.”

The meetings this week follow a similar meeting held in August between influential agriculture groups from Canada and Mexico along with the American Farm Bureau.

“Free trade agreements have a proven track record of boosting revenue for U.S. agriculture. They create a level playing field for our farmers and ranchers to compete in the global marketplace,” said Duvall. “And NAFTA is no exception with ag exports to Canada and Mexico increasing from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion in 2016. It is vital that we lock in that progress as the first point of talks to improve NAFTA.”

The NAFTA delegates got together back in August and last week to decide what commonalities they might have.

“And we all agreed that overall NAFTA’s been very positive for all countries and to announce the fact that we didn’t want to see anything go backward,” said Salmonsen. “But we're looking forward to some modernizations. And at the meeting we just had we affirmed all of those same issues.”

Salmonsen added that the main issues include standards and market access.

“We don’t want to have food safety standards used as a protectionist trade barrier, so let’s base them on science, and there’s a lot of agreement there. At some point they’ll be talking about U.S. and Canada dairy trade,” said Salmonsen. 

Within the TPP, there had been new access for the US into Canada. 

“We hope that we can get that kind of access in the NAFTA agreement. We have issues with what role geographic indications labeling will take so plenty of work ahead and Wednesday the negotiators will be back in Washington, D.C., for another round of talks,” added Salmonsen.