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Montana Ag Network: Trade with Mexico important for U.S. agriculture

Posted at 9:27 AM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 11:27:54-04

WASHINGTON, DC – President Donald Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico could impact agricultural trade between the two nations.

Agriculture groups are not reacting much to President Trump’s threat of a border closure, but they are sharing how important trade with Mexico is for both US agriculture and consumers.

“We have serious concerns about closing the border and what that could do to our cross-border trade with Mexico,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Senior Director of International Trade and Market Access Kent Bacus.

“Mexico is a billion-dollar export market for us. It’s very important. We export a lot of products to Mexico that quite frankly Americans find less desirable,” Bacus said.

“We can sell you know, tongues and offal and things like that at a premium in the Mexican market. It’s important that we keep that free flow of Commerce open, but we’re very concerned about any disruption to trade rather than Sue tariffs are closing the border,” he continued.

The disruption of trade could also impact Montana grain producers.

“Mexico was the number one buyer of U.S. wheat just a couple of years ago,” explained Ledger, Montana farmer Chris Kolstad, who is the chairman of US Wheat Associates. “In fact, I think they held that title for two straight years.

“Mexico is a very important market for wheat and for barley as well. They are taking a lot of malt barley. The craft industry is big in Mexico and they like Montana barley,” he continued.

A border closure may also impact how Congress will vote on the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“There’s no question that the USMCA is a very important trade agreement that we need Congress to ratify,” Bacus said. “Unfortunately, there are distractions like this threat to the border, through ongoing steel and aluminum tariffs and the retaliation on us agriculture that are going to make that difficult.”

The border issue has the attention of all Americans as the impact of a closure could cause may impact farmers, ranchers and consumers pocketbooks.

Mexico was the third largest ag export market for the U.S. in 2017 — worth $19 billion. The U.S. also imported $25 billion dollars of ag products, mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.

-Lane Nordlund reporting for MTN News