Agriculture paying price for U.S. trade inaction

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Mexico’s trade retaliation against the United States is expanding in size and scope due to the U.S. government not meeting obligations to allow Mexican trucks to operate in the United States, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Due to this inaction, America’s farmers and ranchers are paying a steep price and the AFBF is calling for immediate action to correct the matter.

The updated retaliation list published by Mexico includes tariffs that take effect today against U.S. pork, certain types of U.S. cheese, pistachios, a wide range of U.S. fruits and vegetables and other farm and non-farm goods.

“Mexico is one of our best trading partners and allowing this retaliation to continue for a provision we are obligated to meet is simply unacceptable,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The economic impact from this growing list will be significant to many farmers and ranchers.”

Mexico has taken this action because under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican motor carriers are allowed to transport international cargo within the U.S. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a demonstration project to begin implementation of the negotiated cross-border trucking provisions. In March 2009, Congress failed to renew the program to allow a limited number of trucks from Mexico to haul loads into the United States beyond a 25-mile zone.

Mexico brought a NAFTA case against the United States on the issue. A ruling found that the United States was not in compliance with its obligations, and Mexico was granted the authority to retaliate if efforts are not taken by the U.S. to comply.

“As we can see from the growing list of agricultural and food items on Mexico’s retaliation list, America’s farmers and ranchers are particularly vulnerable,” Stallman said. “We sell a huge amount of food and farm goods to Mexico, so we have a lot to lose. As the retaliation list continues to grow, it comes at a steep cost to U.S. agriculture.”

Under NAFTA, U.S. food and agriculture exports have more than tripled, climbing from an average $3-4 billion per year prior to NAFTA to more than $12 billion in 2007, making Mexico the second largest export market for U.S. agriculture products.

“The U.S. has made significant strides under NAFTA, resulting in increased export opportunities and the creation of thousands of American jobs,” said Stallman. “But, continued inaction by the U.S. to address our Mexican truck obligations is likely to erode the gains we’ve made.” NAFTA was fully implemented Jan. 1, 2008.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation



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