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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 24, 2017

Ernst seeks to strengthen agricultural trade during NAFTA negotiations

By Joni Ernst | Jun 30, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, has joined 16 of her colleagues in the Senate in urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to strengthen agricultural trade as the administration prepares to begin negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“As Senators representing states with significant agricultural exports, we appreciate the careful approach the administration is taking to strengthen the NAFTA agreement, while ensuring that no changes are made that could result in harm to U.S. agriculture,” the senators wrote. “We look forward to working with you throughout the congressional consultation process to ensure that NAFTA continues its substantial economic contributions to U.S. farmers and ranchers and to the growth of our agricultural economy.”

Last month, the Trump administration notified Congress of its intent to open negotiations with Canada and Mexico with respect to NAFTA.

The notification triggers a 90-day consultation period under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA), and the administration is required to provide specific negotiating objectives at least 30 days before any negotiations begin.

Since NAFTA was signed into law in 1993, Canada and Mexico have been two of the top five destinations for U.S. agriculture products. Last year, the two countries accounted for 28 percent of the value of total agriculture exports from the United States. Since NAFTA’s enactment, livestock and meat exports to Canada have doubled and agriculture commodity exports to Mexico have increased significantly.

Mexico accounts for almost half of Iowa’s corn exports, generating over $400 million annually, and in 2015, Iowa exported $844 million worth of agricultural products to Canada.

In addition to Senator Ernst, the letter is signed by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

 

– Joni Ernst has represented Iowa in the United States Senate since 2015.

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