Ricketts, ag groups highlight importance of U.S.-Mexico trade relationship
LINCOLN, Neb. – The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a boon for America’s farmers and ranchers, and we must maintain a strong partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and national and state grain industry leaders told Mexican officials today at a press conference highlighting the importance of Mexico to U.S. agriculture.
“Bilateral trade with Mexico has helped grow agriculture in our state over the years,” Ricketts said. “Mexico is Nebraska’s largest export market for corn, dairy, sugar and sweeteners, and second-largest market for soybeans, wheat, sorghum and distillers grains. All of this combined accounts for thousands of Nebraska jobs. I’m encouraged by local and national discussions to expand trade, and am committed to helping grow our trade relationship with Mexico so we can continue to grow Nebraska.”
The Nebraska Corn Board, the U.S. Grains Council, and the National Corn Growers Association are hosting a team of Mexican grain and industry officials in Nebraska for a town hall and industry meetings, ahead of the Trump Administration’s plans to renegotiate NAFTA, a 20-year-old trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Later this week, the Mexican delegation will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will join U.S. corn farmers for meetings with Congressional leaders to discuss the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship.
“Nebraska agriculture is at its best when we all work together, which includes our trading partners,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Mexico is currently Nebraska’s largest export market for corn, which provides $287 million in added value to our state’s economy. I’m looking forward to the positive dialogue over these next few days as we look for ways to maintain and even strengthen our relationship with this key partner.”
Approximately 20 percent of U.S. corn and corn co-products are exported. Mexico is the largest market for U.S. corn. In 2016, U.S. corn exports to Mexico totaled 13.3 million metric tons (523.5 million bushels) of corn, valued at $2.5 billion. The U.S. also exported 1.9 million metric tons of distiller’s dried grains with solubles, a byproduct of ethanol.
“Today’s farmers rely more on foreign demand for their products. Exports account for 31 percent of farmer income. When commodity prices are low, as they are now, 31 percent is an even bigger deal,” said Jon Doggett, executive vice president and head of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association. “That’s why we need strong trade agreements like NAFTA. NAFTA has been one of the most important catalysts for economic growth in our industry that I have seen.”
As a result of NAFTA, corn is exported to Mexico without tariffs or duties. Under the agreement, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled and quintupled, respectively. One in every 10 acres of American farmland is planted to be exported to Mexico and Canada.
“The National Corn Growers Association is committed to fair and open global trade policies and practices. We will work closely with the Trump Administration and Congress to build on the successful trade relationship we have with our neighbors in Mexico, and make sure a modernized NAFTA is a win-win for both our countries,” Doggett said.
Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, echoed the importance of the U.S.-Mexican relationship.
“The U.S. Grains Council has worked for more than 35 years in Mexico to help local feed and livestock industries expand their production of meat, milk and eggs and to build the relationships that are the foundation for our strong, interdependent trade relationship,” Sleight said. “Having these industry leaders here in the United States this week to share how NAFTA has impacted their companies and their country is invaluable to helping us communicate how important strong trade policy with our nearest neighbors is to the continued success of U.S. grain producers and exporters.”