Former Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), Co-Chairs of Farmers for Free Trade (@farmersfortrade) issued the following statement on Jan. 8 on President Trump’s speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Rural prosperity requires robust trade. Particularly at a time when farm incomes are down, rural communities depend on demand beyond US borders to keep and grow rural jobs and economies. That’s why we urge the Administration to modernize NAFTA without withdrawing, to proceed with caution on imposing new tariffs that could hurt American farmers, and to open new markets across the globe to keep pace with our competitors.
“The quickest way to reverse any regulatory or tax benefits targeted toward rural America would be to withdraw from NAFTA. NAFTA withdrawal would not only threaten commodity and stock markets, it would create a massive new tax on American agriculture. In Mexico alone, our chicken exports would see a 75% tax, pork would be taxed at 10%, and beef taxes would rise to 25%. Taking withdrawal off the table is the only way to provide American farmers and ranchers with the certainty they deserve.
“We also know there that while unfair trade practices must be addressed, tariffs are a two-way street. History shows that when the U.S. takes unilateral action to impose tariffs on our trading partners, retaliation lands squarely on the doorstep of American farmers. That’s why we caution against taking actions that could ultimately come home to roost in rural America.
“Finally, we believe it’s critical that we turn from renegotiating past agreements to creating new trade opportunities for farmers. With TPP left by the wayside, we now have no clear strategy for opening markets in Asia. This puts our farmers and agricultural industries at a disadvantage compared to their global competitors.
“As President Trump has rightly pointed out, America’s farmers feed not only our nation, but millions of people around the world. That’s why Farmers for Free trade is building a bipartisan, grassroots network of farmers to support trade. We believe that the voices of the people who put food on the table should be at the table when trade decisions are made. We look forward to continuing to work across rural America and with the Administration and Congress to support trade policies that grow the economy of the American heartland.”