Prior to his tumultuous election as President of the United States, Donald Trump often mentioned his intention to either exit the North American Free Trade Agreement or negotiating better terms for the country. While still on the campaign trail, he also made promises to American farmers who voted for him in droves; however, this segment of the constituency is now concerned about what may happen to the agricultural sector if NAFTA is mishandled.
Confidence in the Trump administration has fallen to record levels; for this reason, American farmers are worried that they will be impacted negatively if NAFTA is botched. The first hurdle has been cleared: Trump no longer believes that the U.S. should exit the trade agreement completely. This was a change of heart from the rhetoric adopted by Trump during the election, but his decision to back down from exiting NAFTA has pleased the National Corn Growers Association since various segments of the agricultural industry benefit from the agreement.
Soybean farmers in Iowa are disturbed about the stance that Trump has taken against Mexico, a country that buys a considerable amount of soybean products since they are cheaper to produce in the U.S. In a report broadcast by the Voice of America, officials from the Missouri Farm Bureau explained that they only supported Trump because they believed in his promises to modify trade agreements that would no longer result in a massive loss of American jobs.
While it is true that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Mexico in relation to certain agricultural commodities, the fact remains that American exporters enjoyed a trade surplus for 20 years. The current deficit responds to a global trend of lower prices for grain and livestock; once these prices return to normal based on consumption patterns, the U.S. could once again enjoy a trade surplus.
Trade agreements are meant to prevent trade wars; this is the reason why American farmers are concerned since Trump seems to be ready to pick a fight with President Peña Nieto of Mexico or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.
Trump already abandoned the Tras-Pacific Partnership, a deal that would have given American farmers access to the lucrative Japanese consumer market. Now Australia has a better trading position with Japan, and the U.S. can no longer be competitive. In the end, farmers want assurances from Trump that they will not be forgotten.