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Corn Growers Press for New NAFTA Deal in Congress

Some farmers in the Midwest this year did not get all the corn planted they normally would due to rain, snow, cold and flooding. (1778011/pixabay)
Some farmers in the Midwest this year did not get all the corn planted they normally would due to rain, snow, cold and flooding. (1778011/pixabay)
July 18, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – America's corn growers are in Washington this week urging Congress to ratify a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, would replace the 1994 agreement known as NAFTA.

John Linder, a farmer and a member of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association, says in the 20 years since the agreement was signed, trade with Canada has tripled while it has increased five-fold with Mexico – the number one buyer of U.S. corn.

He maintains a modernized trade agreement will expand U.S. competitiveness.

"And it needs to happen, because the benefits of this agreement extend beyond individual farms,” he states. “America's food and agricultural sectors account for roughly one-fifth of the country's economic activity, providing over 22 million jobs."

President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if Congress doesn't quickly pass the trade deal, which requires ratification by legislators in all three countries before it can take effect.

Mexico ratified the agreement last month, and it is expected to pass easily in Canada, but it faces an uphill climb in Congress, where other issues have taken priority.

Linder says a sustained period of low commodity prices and multiple severe weather events, especially across the western corn belt, has challenged many farm operations.

But he's confident most farmers are behind Trump's trade war with China if it successfully counters intellectual property theft and trade abuses.

"There is a definite strain that's been placed on us by Mother Nature that probably has taken that pain level a little bit high, but we're supportive of his efforts to go after what is plaguing American businesses," he states.

In May, the Trump administration provided $16 billion in aid to help keep farmers who were hurt by the trade war afloat.

The latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture say this year's national average corn yield will be 166 bushels per acre, compared with 196 bushels per acre during the past five years.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD