Some in Agriculture Industry Hesitant about NAFTA renegotiation

Last week President Trump released a 17-page outline of proposed changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. And just this week Texas Representative Mike Conaway discussed the matter at a House Committee on Agriculture, where industry leaders sounded off.

Do no harm. That was the overwhelming sentiment expressed in the House Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday.

Kendal Frazier, representing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, spoke during the hearing.

“Quite frankly, it is difficult to improve upon duty free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico,” Frazier said.

“We strongly encourage our negotiators to leave alone the terms of the agreement that have benefited the U.S. beef and cattle industry…our message remains, please do no harm and do not jeopardize our access.”

Representative Mike Conaway, who represents West Texas, acknowledged that NAFTA has, for the most part, been a boon to agriculture.

“For more than 20 years, NAFTA has governed trade between our three countries, and in that time, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada have nearly quadrupled,” Conaway said.

That rings true for Texas, the nation’s biggest exporter and producer of products like beef that have fared well under the trade agreement. Still, Conaway said, there’s room for improvement.

Others at the meeting raised concerns about dairy trade with Canada, and specialty crop growers said they’re suffering because of cheap imports from Mexico.

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About Carlos Morales

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director, Border and Immigration Reporter, and Morning Edition Host.
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