Minnesota farmers fear losing millions should US leave NAFTA

FF Editor
Farm Forum

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota farmers fear they could lose millions of dollars if the United States leaves the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Trump has threatened to withdraw from the trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He has been renegotiating for better terms for nearly five months.

Randy Spronk runs the Spronk Brothers farm in southwest Minnesota, where hogs are the main source of income. Spronk told Minnesota Public Radio that overseas sales are becoming an important trade market for his business.

He said his farm could lose over $2 million in annual revenue if the U.S. withdraws from NAFTA.

Mexico and Canada account for more than $1.5 billion per year for Minnesota.

Sales of pork products from farms like Spronk’s to Mexico and Canada totaled to $200 million last year. Corn and soybeans account for nearly a third of Minnesota’s trade with the two countries.

Spronk said pork producers won’t rest easy until a new deal that protects their interests is finalized.

“We’ve got the market, we don’t want to lose the market, we want to retain the market,” said Spronk.

Across the U.S., farmers exported almost $40 billion in agricultural products to Mexico and Canada last year.

International grain marketer CHS is based in the Twin Cities and a large part of NAFTA trade.

The company joined about 90 other American farm and food groups in signing a letter to the Trump administration last fall. The letter said that the withdrawal would result in “substantial” damage to the country’s agricultural sector.

The U.S.’s threats to leave the agreement haven’t had much of an impact on NAFTA agricultural trade so far. U.S. exports have increased this year.

Agricultural groups are still asking the president to “do no harm” as the trade talks continue.