In the News
Fischer, Moran, Ernst stress NAFTA’s value to Midwest agriculture producers in talks with president, agency heads
Source: Ripon Advance
Dec 08 2017
Several Republican senators from top agriculture states met this week with President Donald Trump and administration officials to discuss the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations and NAFTA’s impact on their states’ large agricultural-products economies.
Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Tuesday met at the White House with President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and stressed the importance of maintaining NAFTA and its duty-free access for agricultural products. Fischer serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, while Ernst serves on the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
“Today I stressed to President Trump and Trade Representative Lighthizer the importance of maintaining NAFTA, and the duty free access our ag products enjoy under it,” Ernst said. “Trade plays a critical role in Iowa’s economy, and I reiterated to the administration the importance of ensuring Iowans remain competitive in the global market – provided our trading partners are operating on a level playing field.”
According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Mexico and Canada are Nebraska’s two largest customers for agricultural goods, with 2016 exports to the two nations accounting for 45 percent of all Nebraska agricultural exports that year.
“I had a good conversation with President Trump on the importance of trade to Nebraska and our country as a whole,” Fischer said. “During our conversation, I highlighted the significance of NAFTA to agriculture exports and related manufacturing jobs. I also stressed the need to safeguard the competitive advantage our agriculture producers and manufacturers have worked so hard to build,” Fischer added.
Fischer also joined fellow Senate Commerce Committee member Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) in a Wednesday meeting with U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to stress the trade pact’s importance to their states.
“In 2016, Kansas exported more than $4.5 billion worth of agricultural products, which supported more than 36,000 jobs and generated more than $5.7 billion in economic activity, I encouraged Secretary Ross to be extremely mindful of the role agricultural trade plays in Kansas’ economy and the consequences of NAFTA withdrawal to our farmers and ranchers,” Moran said. “To illustrate this point, I showed Secretary Ross a picture of grain piles waiting on the ground in Kensington, Kansas as a direct example of why NAFTA is needed in our state to sell goods and feed the world.”
Fischer added that Secretary Ross was forthcoming with information on where trade negotiations now stand. “I was able to highlight Nebraska’s perspective when it comes to trade and the great value of this agreement to our state’s producers, manufacturers, and exporters,” she said.