Negotiations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, will soon enter an eighth round. Industries in Idaho are keeping a close eye on the talks.
Trade negotiations between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. might seem far removed from Idaho, but they’re top of mind to leaders in the state’s agriculture sector.
“Oh no, it affects farmers in Idaho in a lot of different ways," says Mark Duffin, the executive director of the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association.
Cameron Mulrony, a vice president with the Idaho Cattle Association echoes the sentiment, “Yeah, I think our producers do think about that.”
Both men say they’re watching the trade deal negotiations with interests.
Mulrony says he’s unfazed by President Donald Trump’s repeated tough talk about NAFTA.
“So far, in the negotiations we’ve seen, our president and his team seem to understand that we need that ability to trade; you know, transport agriculture products back and forth, and then also making sure that our industry here stateside is protected,” says Mulrony.
The U.S. is looking to have NAFTA discussions wrapped up by May first.
In a co-authored op-ed for Idaho Politics Weekly, Idaho House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding points out just how good NAFTA has been for the state since taking effect in 1994.
“Idaho agricultural exports have increased by 800 percent,” says Erpelding. “Nearly half of our farm and food exports go to Mexico and Canada, and when you’re talking about ag, a lot of people forget that that’s 20 percent of Idaho’s economy.”
The eighth round of NAFTA talks are scheduled to get underway in Washington, D.C. in early April.
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