WASHINGTON — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the Trump Administration’s overall goals for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are beneficial to the U.S. beef industry because they encourage the continuation of terms that have benefitted the industry for decades – specifically duty-free access and science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards. The Administration this afternoon sent their goals to Capitol Hill.
“As we have said before, it is difficult to improve upon duty-free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico—and we are pleased that USTR’s objectives for NAFTA include maintaining existing reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods,” NCBA President Craig Uden said. Uden said NCBA will continue to support the inclusion of strong sanitary and phytosanitary standards in NAFTA.
NCBA has been an outspoken supporter of NAFTA because the terms of NAFTA developed Canada and Mexico into two very important export markets for U.S. beef. NCBA has expressed concern that any changes to the terms of NAFTA that impact beef and cattle trade may jeopardize the industry’s current access to Canada and Mexico.
While there may be calls from other segments of agriculture and other industries to update or renegotiate the terms of NAFTA, NCBA strongly encourages the Trump Administration to focus its efforts on those specific areas and leave alone the terms of NAFTA that have greatly benefitted the U.S. beef and cattle industry.
NCBA will continue to advise the Trump Administration and Congress to not repeat the mistakes of the past by using NAFTA to resurrect failed government marketing programs, such as Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL).
“As we learned from history, MCOOL failed to deliver higher values for producers or a safer food supply,” Uden said. “It did, however, result in further consolidation in the U.S. beef industry and the potential for $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico. We must learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them.”