LINCOLN, NEB. – York County Farm Bureau President Jason Perdue outlined a series of key agriculture objectives for modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, July 18 in Washington D.C. Perdue, who also serves on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, provided the testimony on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“NAFTA has been overwhelmingly beneficial for the clear majority of farmers, ranchers, and associated businesses in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. U.S. farmers and ranchers from across the nation have benefited from an increase in annual exports to Mexico and Canada from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion in 2016,” Perdue testified.
Perdue further elaborated on the importance of NAFTA to Nebraska pointing out that Nebraska exported more than $2.4 billion worth of products to both Mexico and Canada in 2016, with agricultural products making up $1.5 billion of that total.
“Despite the clear and numerous benefits, there are reasons to update and reform NAFTA from agriculture’s perspective. While agriculture collectively has experienced substantial benefits, some individual commodities have faced challenges,” Perdue said.
Farm Bureau priorities for a modernized NAFTA include:
- Updated, science-based sanitary and phytosanitary rules (i.e. basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards);
- Improved dispute settlement procedures for fresh fruits, vegetables, and horticultural products;
- Eliminated or reduced Canadian tariff barriers to dairy, poultry, eggs, and wine, as well as the recently implemented barriers to ultra-filtered milk;
- Addressing the misuse of geographical indicators (i.e. trade distorting provisions which limit the ability for some U.S. products to move into partnering countries); and
- Developing a consistent, science-based approach to biotechnology.
In June, Nebraska Farm Bureau submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office urging the office to focus on maintaining the growth in agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico as the Trump Administration prepares for renegotiation of NAFTA. Today, roughly 30 percent of U.S. farm income can be attributed to international trade.