Nebraska, Iowa officials see two-way deal with Mexico as a good step but want Canada included, too

Nebraska, Iowa officials see two-way deal with Mexico as a good step but want Canada included, too
World-Herald News Service

The news that the United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary two-way deal on trade was praised Monday by Nebraska and Iowa officials as an important first step to restoring certainty for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.

The U.S. and Mexico have been discussing a trade deal as part of negotiations over revising the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. President Donald Trump on Monday announced an “understanding” with Mexico that he said was good for both countries.

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said it was a step in the right direction.

“I’m pleased to see President Trump making good on his promise to provide better certainty for Nebraska farmers and ranchers,” said Fischer, who said she has met three times with Trump to stress the importance of trade to Nebraska. “I am hopeful this announcement will send a positive signal to our other NAFTA partner, Canada, that the United States is committed to modernizing trade agreements.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says a trade deal between the United States and Mexico is critical to Nebraska’s economy, particularly in agriculture, and he’s optimistic about the new agreement.

“A new deal will give more certainty to our farm families headed into harvest,” he said. “It is my hope that Canada will come to the table quickly, and I urge President Trump to continue to work to expand markets.”

Ricketts recently returned from a trade mission to Mexico to promote Nebraska’s products and to encourage investment in Nebraska. He said he talked to leaders about buying more grain from Nebraska.

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., also weighed in, with a statement saying: “Trade agreements are vital to Nebraska’s economy.”

He also said: “Today’s announcement by the president of an agreement with Mexico to change parts of NAFTA is good news. … This announcement is very welcome and I look forward to reviewing this agreement and am optimistic it will help boost Nebraska’s ag and business economies.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called Monday’s announcement a good step toward giving farmers what they want: free trade and open markets. “Our farmers are the most productive in the world and will always win when they have unrestricted access to markets.”

Mexico imports more pork from American producers than any other country, and Mexico is a major destination for U.S. corn. Iowa is No. 1 in producing corn and pork.

Mexico in 2017 was Nebraska’s largest export market for corn, wheat, dairy products, sugar and sweeteners and animal fats. Mexico is Nebraska’s second-largest export market for soybeans and soybean products, dry edible beans, sorghum and distillers grains.

Farmers have been dealing with low commodity prices and tariffs from Trump’s trade disputes around the world.

“While I am still reviewing the deal, the president’s fulfillment of a core promise to revamp trade deals brings more certainty to our markets, more money in our pockets, and more confidence to Iowa — and American — farmers, ranchers and manufacturers,” said U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he was encouraged by the progress announced but reserving final judgment until there is an agreement that includes Canada.

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