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16 Dec 2012 - NAFTA Should be Here to Stay

NAFTA, N.A.F.T.A., The North America Free Trade Agreement, was put in place in 1994. Ever since, it has come under severe criticism from government officials, labor unions and some commodity groups over the feeling that it is taking jobs out of America to other parts of the world.

Just a quick refresher course 18 years later. NAFTA is a free-trade agreement involving three countries, the United States, Mexico and Canada and when it comes to agricultural trade, there is no question that NAFTA works, and benefits thousands of workers in this country. Farmers and ranchers, of course, benefit because they sell their products to foreign consumers, but the trade agreement also provides thousands of jobs for workers in the processing and transportation industries.

An article in the recent FARMLAND IN PERSPECTIVE newsletter from Farmers National Company pointed out that the total value of exports and imports of U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico reached about $72-billion in 2011. That’s up from a little over $60-billion in 2008, and the value and volume of that trade continues to increase.

It is not just to the benefit of American farmers and ranchers, it benefits producers in Mexico and Canada, the two countries that now rank #1 and #2 in agricultural trade with this country. Canada is our largest agricultural trading partner; we buy 52% of their exports and supply 58% of their imports. Mexico is our largest agri-food trading partner; we buy 76% of their exports and supply 72% of their imports.

NAFTA is an important part of our agricultural economy and whenever people begin to criticize or suggest that we end the agreement, it should make everyone involved in the agricultural and transportation industries very nervous. So, it is important that people in agriculture continue to carry the message to labor unions and our elected officials on Capitol Hill that trade is not always beneficial to every segment of the economy, but if it doesn’t go both ways, it’s not trade.

When it comes to the agricultural economy that benefits so many people, NAFTA indeed has proven to be very worthwhile. Let’s make certain that NAFTA continues in place for the benefit of all of us.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.