President Donald Trump talked about strengthening United States agriculture and rural communities this week at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) convention. In his speech, President Trump outlined recommendations to provide rural Americans with the support and stability they need. An Iowa senator suggests one aspect of bolstering rural economies is maintaining and strengthening trade relationships.
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with other senators, met with President Trump and Representative Lighthizer last month. The showed both officials how trade plays a critical role in their economies, and encouraged Trump to keep the United States engaged in NAFTA. Ernst talked about how Canada and Mexico benefit Iowa’s agriculture economy.
“What I did, in that discussion with the President, was present him with some different information: a couple different charts, showing what his talk about withdrawing NAFTA does to our commodity markets and different situations. For example, Iowa’s number one purchaser of exported corn is Mexico, and what a great relationship with Mexico and Canada.”
Senator Ernst says she remains optimistic about NAFTA’s future.
“I’m going to say, just personal perspective, it was really insightful,” Ernst said. “He is concerned about NAFTA and making sure we are doing better. I think providing some information about where we have been successful through agriculture enlightened the President. Am I hopeful? Of course I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic because I think he heard, at least from those of us present, a side that maybe hadn’t been presented through the Administration before.”
Senator Ernst says she will continue to stress agriculture and rural America’s need for strong trading relationships throughout the negotiation process. She also says she would like to meet with President Trump again.
“I’d love to have a follow-up meeting, see if he has any additional questions for us,” Ernst said. “I think that would be helpful, especially as we move into additional negotiations.”
The next round of negotiations will take place in Montreal, Canada later this month.