As expected, trade was a hot topic during AgriTalk’s “Farmer Forum” hosted by Chip Flory and recorded live Wednesday at the 2018 Top Producer Seminar. When it comes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), farmers on the show warned President Trump that if he pulls out of the trade deal, he might not see re-election.
On Tuesday, President Trump said NAFTA renegotiations are moving along “well.” Then he added, “I happen to be of the opinion that if it doesn’t work out we’ll terminate it.”
Farmers, lawmakers and industry stakeholders across the country were less than impressed with the president’s latest comments. They surfaced just as the 11 countries still involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) announced they have struck a deal, and as Round 6 of NAFTA negotiations kicked off in Canada.
“Republicans are supposed to be free traders and Trump got elected by the farmers in the United States,” said Frank Howey, a farmer from North Carolina. “If he does us wrong on trade, he will not get re-elected.”
Top Republican senators are looking into their options of overriding a Trump withdrawal from NAFTA, according to Jim Wiesemeyer, ProFarmer’s policy analyst.
“That's how far this has gotten, where you've got a Republican controlled Senate, a Republican in the White House and if the Republican president [withdrawals], the Republican Senate is thinking of over overriding it if they can,” Flory said.
Iowa farmer Ted Hamer said President Trump is not a Republican.
“It's the party of Trump there's no doubt about that,” he said adding that he voted for Trump. “It goes back to what Frank said, he will not get reelected if he's hostile to farming.”
There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, said Wisconsin farmer Jeremey Pavelski. He said that while there are a lot of criticisms of the president and while he’s done several things Pavelski doesn’t agree with, President Trump is a change agent.
“I mean you take a look at it, we've been talking about tax reform for so long and that actually ended up happening,” Pavelski said. “So although he's got some very unconventional ways, some things actually should be worked out.”
A new study from Farmers For Free Trade outlines how much a NAFTA withdrawal would cost farmers and the entire economy. It won’t be cheap. Without NAFTA, cheese would face a tariff up to 45%. Using 2016 cheese exports to Mexico totaling $170 million, the tariffs would add up to $76.5 million in additional duties without NAFTA. Similarly, without NAFTA, beef would be subject to a 25% tariff. In 2016, the U.S. shipped $867 million of beef to Mexico. With a tariff in place, that would be $217 million in additional duties. Chicken and pork would also become far more expensive, with tariffs costing $653 million and $130 million respectively.