Group Forms to Preserve, Update NAFTA
A coalition of more than 30 organizations representing growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers has formed Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), whose aim is to ensure that President Donald Trump and federal legislators understand the importance to America’s agricultural and retail economies of preserving and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Grocery industry members of the coalition include Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Grocers Association and Walmart.
According to AFF, since NAFTA took effect in 1994, its positive effects have enabled the food and agricultural industries to grow to support more than 43 million jobs, but rural economies and communities have benefited most – the same communities that gave Trump his electoral victory in 2016. The coalition further pointed out that under the agreement, food and agriculture exports have skyrocketed, domestic jobs have grown, and U.S. grocery prices have stayed affordable for consumers.
“Farm Belt voters supported President Trump by a three-to-one margin in the last election, and they are counting on President Trump to improve NAFTA in the modernization negotiations,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Corn Refiners Association, and a member of AFF's leadership committee. “It’s not an exaggeration to say many farmers are still farming today because of NAFTA. We know that President Trump has a lot of experience negotiating good deals. We support him in updating and improving NAFTA.”
“NAFTA has opened markets for America’s farmers and ranchers, and U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under the agreement,” added Zippy Duvall, president of the Washington-based American Farm Bureau Federation, and a member of AFF's leadership committee. “The current negotiations should build on that success.”
“We look forward to being active participants in this discussion as we ensure the growers, producers, processors, transporters, retailers and consumers we represent have their voices heard,” noted Chris Novak, CEO of the Chesterfield, Mo.-based National Corn Growers Association, and another member of AFF’s leadership committee. “This issue is simply too important for us to sit on the sidelines.”
“Canada and Mexico represent the second- and third-largest markets for U.S. agriculture,” observed AFF leadership committee member Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council, in Des Moines, Iowa. “A modernized NAFTA is critical to the prosperity of rural America.”
AFF plans to roll out an educational campaign touting the positive effect NAFTA has had on the American economy and advocating for a modernized trade agreement that preserves the United States’ strong economic position for many years to come.