President Trump has announced a preliminary agreement following months of renegotiating the NAFTA trade deal.
The president said the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement would be good for U.S. manufacturers and farmers. U.S. agricultural organizations have been watching this renegotiation process very carefully ever since the rewriting of NAFTA began about a year ago.
Montana Grain Growers Association executive Vice President Lola Raska says export markets like Mexico are very important.
“Nationally, Mexico has emerged as the largest customer for U.S. wheat” said Raska. “Traditionally, that’s a lot of hard red winter wheat from the Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas area of course because of proximity and transportation costs."
"But they do buy some hard red spring wheat from Montana. From Montana specifically, they have become the largest market for our malting barley exports. And we were very concerned about losing some of those markets and becoming a reliable supplier to them," Raska added.
She says the new agreement will help the U.S. maintain important market share that was being lost to other wheat and barley exporting countries.
“They were already starting to buy initial purchases from Argentina and from Russia and that may continue in the future. We have damaged some of that reliability that we enjoyed previously," Raska said.
Most agricultural groups involved with major commodities and proteins simply wanted to maintain the zero tariffs that worked to stimulate U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico.
The USDA reports that Mexico was the #3 overall market for U.S. agriculture products in 2017 at $18.6 billion.
The attention now turns to Canada where negotiations have stalled because of ongoing differences on a variety of issues including President Trump’s demand that Canada ease restriction on U.S. sales of dairy products across the border.