Newly confirmed Ag Secretary advocates ‘renegotiating’ NAFTA

Published on May 3, 2017 by FoodIndustry.Com Editorial Staff 

In an interview on Wednesday, newly confirmed US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said that the administration would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico to a focus on what has worked and what hasn’t. During the presidential campaign Trump repeatedly called for the United States to abandon the trade pact often calling it a “disaster”.

Purdue, the former Governor of Georgia and a strong proponent of rural farmers and growers, is only in his first week on the job. Just last week he met with President Trump to make the case that the agriculture community would be better served by renegotiating NAFTA as opposed to withdrawing completely.

The trade pact has been a mixed bag as it has been good for Midwestern grain and dairy farmers while not being as beneficial for fruit and vegetable producers in South Florida. On the whole, however, Purdue is aware that talk of complete withdrawal seemed to be upsetting some sectors in the market and Trump seemed sympathetic to this argument. “I tried to demonstrate to him that in the agricultural market sometimes words like ‘withdraw’ or ‘terminate’ can have a major impact on markets,” Perdue told The Associated Press.

On April 27 of this year the President tweeted: “I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate. I agreed.” For the moment the renegotiate camp seems to be firmly in control.

NAFTA is the trade agreement between the Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. and became effective in 1994 Renegotiating NAFTA is a concern because Canada and Mexico import significant amounts of corn, soybeans and animal protein products.