With NAFTA talks looming, agriculture leaders are saying Missouri could be one of the hardest hit states should the United States withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Losing NAFTA would be a catastrophe,” Chris Chinn, the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, said in a forum last February.
Last week, six Republican Senators — Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, as well as U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner, John Howeven, Pat Roberts, Dan Sullivan and John Thune — met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to advocate for preserving NAFTA, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
“A primary discussion point was the negative impact a withdrawal would have on economic and stock market momentum,” the NPPC report said.
The sixth round of NAFTA talks is set for Jan. 23 in Montreal.
According to the Chamber of Commerce of the United State, more than 250,000 jobs in the state depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. More than half — 56 percent — of Missouri’s exports are bound for Canada and Mexico, generating $7.8 billion in export revenue.
“NAFTA has led to tremendous growth in U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada, integrated cross-border supply chains that benefit U.S. employers, and more than tripled U.S. exports of goods (including agricultural and manufactured goods) and services,” a letter signed by Sen. Blunt stated in May. “Given that the agreement is more than two decades old, there are areas in which NAFTA will benefit from strengthening and modernization. On the other hand, efforts to abandon the agreement or impose unnecessary restrictions on trade with our North American partners will have devastating economic consequences.”
Ninety-three percent of Missouri’s motor vehicles and 87 percent of the state’s aluminum is exported to Canada and Mexico. Withdrawing from the trade pact would also hit Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.
“NAFTA has a huge impact on Missouri agriculture,” Chinn told the High Plains Journal.
In 2015, the state exported $928 million work of agricultural products. Out of Missouri’s $2.2 billion total agricultural exports, Mexico and Canada are the No. 1 and No. 2 markets, respectively.
Over half of the state’s soybeans are exported, with Mexico being the second largest market. Soybeans topped Missouri’s agricultural commodities in 2016, and at 181 million brushes produces the ninth most in the country.
“We need to make sure that these trade agreements stay in place,” Chinn said.
If the U.S. abandons NAFTA, Mexican tariffs would rise 10 percent on pork — Missouri’s fourth top agricultural commodity in 2016 — and 25 percent for beef — the state’s third ranked agricultural commodity.
“Since 1994, U.S. corn exports have increased more than seven-fold to #NAFTA partners,” the Missouri Corn Growers posted to Facebook in May.
“NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to remain committed to NAFTA and to maintain zero-duty market access for pork exports to Canada and Mexico,” said NPPC. “A U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA would cost the U.S. pork industry $1.5 billion.”
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The 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.