Rural Americans Are Due For A Win
Rural Americans are likely to face another letdown today, as another key date to finalize a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes and goes. According to U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, today marks the deadline to wrap up negotiations and send a deal to Congress to approve this year. This is just the latest example of dashed hopes for our nation’s farmers who, in the midst of planting season, have no idea whether or not they can count on selling their crops to customers in Mexico and Canada next year. Just look at the last two months:
Meanwhile, members of President Trump’s own administration are starting to cast doubt on when and if a deal could be delivered:
All of this uncertainty comes at a time when net farm income is the lowest it has been in 16 years and one in three rural counties have a poverty rate of 20 percent or more. As Retail Industry Leaders Association President Sandy Kennedy and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall write:
“Uncertainty around NAFTA’s future and the timeline under which any changes will take place is hurting America’s farmers, ranchers and the retailers who support rural America. By growing our markets in Mexico and Canada, NAFTA has led to lower prices on everyday goods from televisions to t-shirts and turnips. Unfortunately, the American families who count on these lower prices at the checkout counter will ultimately pay the price were the United States to withdraw from NAFTA.”
“But nobody would feel the impact of a NAFTA withdrawal more than America’s farmers and ranchers. Tariffs on American food and agriculture products would stifle exports and lead to a drop of $13 billion in gross domestic product for the farm sector and potential loss of 50,000 agricultural jobs. As farmers head into the growing season and start to make important financial decisions that impact the success of their business, a withdrawal from NAFTA would spell disaster for rural communities already in crisis.”
By completing NAFTA negotiations and finalizing a new deal, President Trump can provide certainty and peace of mind for farmers, ranchers and retailers, and deliver the win rural Americans who supported him and desperately need it.
Click here to read the Sandy Kennedy and Zippy Duval’s op-ed in Business Insider.