Sen. Roberts speaks on importance of NAFTA

Farmers and those in agriculture need to fight pervasive view that economy has not benefited from trade agreements like NAFTA.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

December 13, 2017

2 Min Read
Sen. Roberts speaks on importance of NAFTA

While addressing the Washington International Trade Assn. on Tuesday morning, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) continued to encourage everyone – farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, senators, as well as officials in the Administration - to help fight the pervasive view that the economy has not benefited from trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Roberts then participated in an agricultural trade discussion with Max Baucus, U.S. ambassador to China and a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Grant Aldonas, executive director of the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown Law and a former undersecretary of commerce for international trade.

“There is a great deal of frustration in farm country because we are missing opportunities to grow our exports,” Roberts said. “I believe that the renegotiation of NAFTA could provide just that opportunity. Strengthening and modernizing NAFTA should result in even stronger economic growth for the United States and for Canada and Mexico.”

Roberts noted that, like many others, he has been concerned about the impact some NAFTA proposals could have on the agricultural value chain. He and other senators have requested that an economic analysis be conducted to illustrate the impact on the full supply chain of industries involved before any changes in NAFTA are finalized.

“Trade is more than a product crossing a border. A seed planted in a field might ultimately become a meal for a family, but in between, you’ll find the combine that harvests it, the facility that processes it and, perhaps most important, the people employed at every step of the way,” Roberts said. “U.S. agriculture has grown because of agreements like NAFTA, and from the farmer in the field to the grocer in the store, American workers have benefited from that growth.”

Roberts is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. trade policy. Roberts has relentlessly highlighted the vast benefits of NAFTA to American agriculture, including multiple conversations with President Donald Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other high-ranking officials in the Administration.

In his comments, Roberts also said farmers and ranchers have been waiting “far too long” for a chief agricultural negotiator as Gregg Doud’s nomination continues to be held up in the Senate. “We need to get him confirmed and in place at USTR providing a critical voice for our producers,” he said.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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