LINCOLN, NEB. – U.S. withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would not only undercut Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, but harm the underlying foundation of Nebraska’s agriculture based economy, according to a new report released by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Dec. 4. The report, “North American Free Trade Agreement and Nebraska Agriculture”,provides a dollars and cents breakdown of the value of NAFTA to farmers, ranchers, Nebraska counties, and the implications to Nebraska’s broader economy.
“Today, nearly half of Nebraska’s total agriculture exports are bound for Canada and Mexico, our NAFTA partners. While we’ve known for years that NAFTA plays a critical role in providing underlying price support for Nebraska agriculture commodities, this economic analysis quantifies what this agreement means at the farmer, rancher, and county levels,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “What it clearly shows is that withdrawing from NAFTA, or renegotiating in a way that harms agriculture trade, would be damaging.”
The report identifies the 2016 export value of individual Nebraska agriculture commodities to both Canada and Mexico. Analysis in the report also assigns a dollar value of NAFTA on a unit basis for individual agriculture commodities, demonstrating how NAFTA supports commodity prices, but also what the loss of NAFTA could mean.
“We were able to breakdown NAFTA into a way farmers, ranchers, and others could instantly see its value. For example, the analysis shows that NAFTA exports of soybeans and soybean meal in 2016 were worth $1.28 per bushel of soybeans produced in Nebraska. That means for every bushel of soybeans produced in Nebraska, NAFTA exports of soybean products contributes $1.28 in value to Nebraska soybean producers. It also points out that if NAFTA goes away, Nebraska soybean products would be at a competitive disadvantage in these markets, and the $1.28 per bushel value is at risk,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist and author of the report. “There’s no denying NAFTA is vital to providing price support for our agriculture products. Ultimately, that support has a positive ripple effect in supporting farm income, which works its way through in positively supporting our state’s overall economy.”
In that same vein, the analysis shows that NAFTA exports are worth $38.22 per head of beef, $22.16 per head of pork, $0.21 per bushel of corn, and $0.75 per bushel of wheat, using 2016 NAFTA figures.
The report also examines the per farm/ranch, and per county implications of NAFTA, as well as examining the value of NAFTA on a commodity-by-commodity basis for each Nebraska county.
“We’ve examined NAFTA’s importance for every county in the state of Nebraska and there’s some interesting findings. We estimate the value of agriculture exports under NAFTA from Platte County tops $34.5 million, making it the highest dollar export value county in the state. On a related front, the report shows that Phelps County has the most at stake in NAFTA on a per farm/ranch basis as the trade agreement is estimated to be worth $55,468 to the average agriculture operation in that county,” said Rempe. “These are just a few of the highlights. The full report provides a very complete overview of what NAFTA means for Nebraska Agriculture at an individual and county basis.”
According to Nelson, the report’s finding paints a very clear picture of where the Trump Administration needs to be on NAFTA.
“While we understand the President wants to get the best trade deal possible, the idea of withdrawing from NAFTA is unfathomable. That would be a disaster for Nebraska and American agriculture. The same could be said of any renegotiations that would weaken agriculture’s trade position in the agreement. Farm and ranch families are already working through a struggling agriculture economy and the loss of NAFTA would undercut recovery and more importantly cause long-term damage well into the future,” said Nelson.
The “North American Free Trade Agreement and Nebraska Agriculture” report containing the full economic analysis is available on the Nebraska Farm Bureau website at www.nefb.org.