The North American Free Trade Agreement has been overwhelmingly beneficial for U.S. farmers and ranchers—and their counterparts in Canada and Mexico—but there are several good reasons to update and reform NAFTA from agriculture’s perspective, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Under NAFTA, U.S. farmers and ranchers have seen their exports to Mexico and Canada grow significantly, from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion in 2016.
While some of the areas prime for improvement are commodity-specific, others apply sector-wide, such as reducing redundant regulatory costs, expediting transit across borders and hastening the resolution of disputes between members, Dale Moore, AFBF’s executive director of public policy, noted in comments recently submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative.
Some of the changes farmers are calling for are related to the modernization of the industry.
“For example, the rules related to biotechnology, Sanitary, and Phyto-sanitary measures, and geographic indicators are ripe for amendment in order to reflect the progress that has been made in these areas over the decades since NAFTA was first implemented,” Moore said in the comments.
He continued, “We also believe negotiations should address how U.S. agricultural exports to Canada would grow if tariff barriers to dairy, poultry, and eggs were reduced or eliminated, as well as the relatively recent barriers to ultra-filtered milk exports.”
In a handful of areas, AFBF recommended the inclusion of provisions from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including language related to food safety (sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures), the movement of goods through customs within 48 hours, quick resolutions on disputes involving active shipments and geographical indicators.
Enhanced cooperation among U.S., Canadian and Mexican regulatory agencies to prevent trade disruptions related to agricultural production technologies like biotechnology is also important, AFBF said.