by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig
In Iowa, we don’t focus on the noise in Washington, D.C. Regardless of what goes on inside the Beltway, we still get up the next morning and put in a hard day’s work. However, many of us are anxious as the United States, Mexico and Canada seek to flesh out the final details of a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement. After months of negotiations, U.S. trade officials have warned that if a deal is not reached in the weeks ahead, NAFTA negotiations will be put on hold until 2019. That’s too long to wait for many of Iowa’s farmers and business owners whose livelihoods will be placed at risk.
The importance of NAFTA to Iowa and other Farm Belt states cannot be overstated. Since being signed into law in 1994, NAFTA has helped Iowa’s agricultural industry grow to support more than 750,000 jobs and $40 billion in wages. Moreover, 51 percent of our agricultural exports went to NAFTA trading partners.
Simply put, NAFTA has been instrumental in helping Iowa’s economy move forward by allowing our farmers to export their products to Mexico and Canada without the burden of heavy tariffs and restrictions. Nationally, NAFTA has been a resounding success for America’s food and agricultural industries. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, our nation’s agricultural exports to our neighbors to the north and south have increased by 450 percent since NAFTA was signed into law. In Iowa, we export about $5 billion worth of food and agriculture products as a result of NAFTA, which has helped us create jobs and invest in our communities.
Read the original op-ed in the Morning Consult here.