Trade relationships are the foundation for creating economic prosperity between nations, Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said at the opening session of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville.

MacAulay, who is the first Canadian agriculture minister to speak to Farm Bureau members at an annual convention, said that trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and building on common interests are the three areas the U.S. and Canada should focus on.

“The closer the U.S. and Canada work together to address common challenges, the more we can grow our economies,” he said. “No two nations depend on each other for economic prosperity more than the U.S. and Canada.”

Since 1994, trade among NAFTA partners has tripled, and agriculture and food exports from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled. 

“The American Farm Bureau knows how vital NAFTA is to our industry,” said MacAulay. “We must continue to ensure that North America remains a major building block in our shared economic prosperity. If we grow our trade relationship, we will grow our economies together.”

Speaking on NAFTA renegotiation, MacAulay said the main objective is to do no harm to agriculture. “Can NAFTA be updated? Of course. But it’s like an old tractor in the barn. We can make it better, but let’s not destroy the tractor.”

In closing MacAulay thanked Farm Bureau members for their commitment to promoting trade.

“Your presence here speaks to the optimism of the future,” he said.