JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Highlighting the importance of farming and ranching to the state, Missouri legislators and agriculturalists stressed the need to maintain free trade agreements with the state’s partners.
In the official rollout of the Show-Me State’s coalition of Americans for Farmers & Families, participants talked about the significance of the North American Free Trade Agreement to Missouri.
“We produce a whole lot more feed and fiber and product than we can possibly use in the state of Missouri,” Sen. Dan Hegeman said. “So exports and trades are dramatically important for us.”
Specifically, Missouri exported $2.2 billion in agricultural products in 2016 — 64 percent of which went to NAFTA partners.
Scott Hays, a member of the Missouri Pork Producers, offered an analogy most meat-eating Missourians can relate to; without NAFTA it “probably wouldn’t be out of the question to see $10 or $12 bacon.”
The Americans for Farmers & Families is a national coalition of growers, producers, suppliers, transports, retailers, and consumers dedicated to preserving NAFTA and working with President Donald Trump to negotiate a modernized agreement fit for the 21st century.
The coalition lists a successful NAFTA will expand access for agricultural goods, reduce unnecessary regulatory and nontariff barriers that block U.S. agricultural exports, reduce bureaucratic delays, and ensure U.S. agricultural exports receive fair treatment.
“Certainly don’t want to see us get into a situation like we found ourselves in the early 80s when we used agricultural products as an international negotiating tool,” Hegeman said.
Hegeman is sponsoring SCR 39, urging Congress and the President to continue, strengthen and present NAFTA. Rep. Sonya Anderson — who also attended the rollout press conference — is sponsoring HCR 82, a companion bill.
Shane Kinne, Director of Public Policy at the Missouri Corn Growers Association, did recognize there is some opportunity to modernize in plant and animal health but noted most big changes to NAFTA would not be agriculturally related.
Dave Drennan, Executive Director of the Missouri Dairy Association, voiced some concern with how Canada’s subsidized dairy industry is affecting America’s dairy industry.
Overall, as Hegeman and Kinne noted the most important thing is to “do no harm to agriculture.”
Casey Guernsey, spokesperson for the Americans for Farmers & Families – Missouri, and Nathan White, former president of the Ray County Farm Bureau, also were apart of the coalition’s rollout.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.