Billings, Mont. – Today, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement regarding reports that President Trump’s trade negotiators may accept a “Skinny NAFTA.”
“We urge President Trump to stay at the NAFTA negotiating table until all the deficiencies in that agreement are corrected. If those deficiencies that allow Canada and Mexico to maintain persistent and substantial price depressing trade surpluses cannot be corrected, the United States should withdraw from NAFTA. No deal is better than a partial deal that continues to drain the economic strength of the United States’ largest agricultural sector – our U.S. cattle industry.
“Under NAFTA, the U.S. imports three times the volume and twice the value that it exports in cattle and beef, which forced the U.S. to absorb a price depressing $33 billion deficit during NAFTA’s pendency. The value of imports from Canada and Mexico increased 41 percent from 2012-13 to 2014-15, contributing to the unprecedented 2015 collapse in U.S. cattle prices.
“It is the swamp, the entrenched agricultural lobby representing transnational agribusinesses, that is resisting the President’s effort to properly renegotiate NAFTA. The President must not continue kowtowing to those transnational agribusinesses that have no loyalty whatsoever to America’s farmers and ranchers nor to America’s rural communities.
“Before President Trump leaves the NAFTA table, even temporarily, he should reinstate country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef so consumers can choose to buy American beef. He should revise NAFTA’s rules of origin to end the theft of the American ranchers’ trademark – their “Product of the USA” label, which transnational agribusinesses are now putting on beef born and raised exclusively in Canada and Mexico. He should include safeguards to protect American ranchers from price-destroying import surges such as the one that broke our cattle market in 2015-16. In addition, he should impose tariffs on cattle and beef from Canada and Mexico so that our American cattle industry can once again begin attracting young ranchers who are presently shut out of the ranching business because all the economic opportunities they would have had over the past 25 years have been fulfilled with undifferentiated imports.”