As talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ramp up, members of Congress continue to urge President Donald Trump and administration officials to remain engaged and ensure a modernized agreement will maintain and add benefits to agricultural industries, including dairy. The requests come at a time when the administration is pushing for a preliminary NAFTA agreement to be announced.

“While we don’t expect NAFTA to conclude this week, this push could mean that progress may soon be made on a number of issues,” said Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs.

Action for Agriculture

Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., this week urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer not to conclude negotiations on NAFTA without fulfilling President Donald Trump’s call to address controversial dairy policy issues in Canada. He stressed that the updated agreement must maintain existing market access for American agricultural producers.

“In particular, American dairy producers have faced both falling prices and unfair Canadian policies that are undermining their ability to sell into the Canadian market,” Bennet said. “I urge you not to miss this opportunity to support American agricultural exports, particularly for the American dairy industry as it faces a precarious moment.”

In his letter, Bennet included remarks the president made a year ago about Canada and dairy. “In Canada, very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others,” Trump said in a speech in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last April, adding, “And it’s not going to be happening for long.”

Last month, more than 60 congressmen wrote to President Donald Trump asking him to preserve NAFTA and stressing its benefits to the U.S. economy and the potential for greater economic success under a modernized agreement. They emphasized the gains made under the agreement, especially in agriculture and manufacturing, noting that U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under NAFTA and reached $38.1 billion in 2016.

“NAFTA provides the foundation for a strong North American economy that will allow us to compete – and win – against the rest of the world,” they said in the letter. “We can further improve economic opportunities for American consumers, workers and job creators by remaining in NAFTA and modernizing the agreement.”

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at