Perdue: Trump announced NAFTA withdrawal after criticism
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today that President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement soon because he is frustrated by congressional criticism that he didn’t achieve everything members wanted in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Secretary Perdue today lit the Agriculture Department Christmas tree and thanked the people of Oregon for bringing it from the Willamette National Forest. Another larger tree from the Willamette National Forest will be the U.S. Capitol tree.
“The president is frustrated by people in Congress saying you didn’t get this,” Perdue said when he met with reporters after lighting the Agriculture Department’s Christmas tree in the building patio. Trump told the American people “I’m going to get a better deal” and he did, Perdue said, adding that he believes Congress will approve the USMCA.
Perdue said he would have “loved” to have had the fruit and vegetable provisions that would have addressed Southern complaints that Mexican exports have unfairly interfered with that industry in Georgia and Florida.
“We weren’t able to do that, Perdue said, but he added that the agreement contains important biotechnology provisions.
On the potential for resuming soybean sales to China after the meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Perdue said he and other Cabinet officers are discussing “when we can go on the offense to start selling.”
The second half of the market facilitation payments to farmers to make up for lost sales to China is now at the Office of the Management and Budget for analysis, Perdue said, adding that he would discuss the program with Trump later in the week after the funeral services for the late President George H.W. Bush are over.
Perdue said he would leave any decisions about payment limits on farm subsidies up to Congress in the farm bill.
“That is representative democracy,” Perdue said.
He also said he believes the farm bill programs are “a great investment” because Americans spend a lower percentage of their incomes on food than most other countries.