The United States Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), Greater Des Moines Partnership and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), hosted a panel discussion Friday regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Participant’s conversations centered around the future of NAFTA and its importance to Iowa, particularly in rural communities where agriculture and business depend on trade for sustainability. Those participating in the discussion, titled: “NAFTA Works: The Stakes for Iowa Agriculture and Business” include:
- Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
- Neill Herrington, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president
- Mike Ralston, Iowa Association of Business and Industry president
- Joe Murphy, Greater Des Moines Partnership senior vice president of government relations and public policy
- Dave Miller, Iowa Farm Bureau director of research and commodity services
The Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network spoke to Dave Miller following the panel discussion. Miller says the key takeaway from the panel discussion is “NAFTA is working for Iowa agriculture and to a large degree, working for Iowa business.”
“For agriculture, we have seen Mexico continuously increase the amount of corn, soybeans, pork and beef bought from the U.S. We (also) continue to see very good movement of agricultural commodities to Canada. You can’t underemphasize the importance of Canada and Mexico to Iowa agriculture,” Miller said.
Farm Bureau research claims the United States, Canada and Mexico share over $80 billion dollars in agricultural trade. The U.S. ships roughly $18 billion worth of agricultural goods to Mexico and $21 billion worth to Canada each year. Miller provides a summary of agricultural trade between Iowa, Mexico and Canada.
“From an Iowa perspective, we’re talking $1.5 billion (worth) of agricultural goods going out of Iowa to Canada and Mexico. That is pushing five- to seven-percent of total sales out of Iowa agriculture to Canada and Mexico. If you look at it as a percent of exports, it’s a very significant part of Iowa’s exports,” Miller said.
Miller reports Iowa claims Mexico as its largest corn market. Iowa also claims Mexico as its second largest pork market and third largest beef market. Large supplies of other agricultural products, such as turkey meat and dairy products, are sent from Iowa to Mexico as well.
Miller says IFBF does not oppose an updated trade agreement. However, he says the organization would like to see top trade officials push positive rhetoric throughout the process.
“Trade is good; trade has been very good for Iowa agriculture. NAFTA works for U.S. agriculture and Iowa agriculture. One of the key messages is NAFTA works, trade works,” Miller said. “The rhetoric that we saw in the last campaign that we’re seeing in the current Administration really is damaging to markets in real time and we really need to begin to talk about how do we, if there are problems out there, how do we solve them not how do we walk away from things.