The American Farm Bureau Federation is taking in stride President Donald Trump’s more protectionist moves on trade this week, despite AFBF’s long-held support of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
It’s not what the nation’s largest farm organization wanted, but AFBF trade adviser Dave Salmonsen says it was expected after President Trump’s consistent campaign comments. Salmonsen says they do want to work with the White House.
“On NAFTA, certainly that was something that was expected he was going to do, as we’ve told the administration, we want to be there. NAFTA has done benefits over the years to U.S. trade with both Canada and Mexico. We’ve gone from about $9 billion of ag exports to those countries when NAFTA began to over $38 billion of ag exports today.”
Salmonsen says the new talks, which the leaders of both Mexico and Canada are open to, will deal largely with manufacturing, though agriculture is also expected to come up.
“There are some issues there that we could still move forward with still some remaining border barriers from Canada on our dairy and poultry exports, and issues with Mexico that I’m sure will also be on the table is open. But now we’ll be talking about NAFTA again.”
“Other ways need to be done, whether we’re talking about direct trade relationships with Japan and with other countries, but we certainly point out the value of that as a growing export market.”
Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House Trade Council head Peter Navarro, will negotiate the new deals while Trump will meet soon with Canada and Mexico’s leaders on NAFTA.
Separately, the new President has signaled his intent to eliminate his predecessor’s Climate Action Plan, and the highly controversial Waters of the U.S. rule that much of ag sees as an infringement on property rights by vastly expanding federal water jurisdiction.
Overturning WOTUS could entail a new rulemaking, Congressional action, or possibly, the White House simply no longer defending WOTUS in court, where the rule is now frozen, as the Supreme Court reviews lower court jurisdictional conflicts.