President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week, ordering his administrative team to review policies and laws that regulate the agricultural sector. Trump held a round table with farmers to hear their concerns and stressed that they “not only feed the country but also millions of people around the world.””Our farmers deserve a government that works for their interests and gives them the power to do the hard work they so love to do,” President Trump said.
The order establishes an adhoc team, headed by the newly confirmed US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. This group will now have six months to “identify legislative, regulatory and political changes” in the national agricultural industry. Trump promised that his team intends to “identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that harm farmers and rural communities in the country.”
“In the United States we produce more food than we can eat, so our true potential for economic growth lies in finding markets where incomes and population are growing,” said President Trump.
Despite Trump’s rhetoric, a White House official on Monday suggested that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, as negotiated, is not so bad for the US agricultural sector. “In agreements like NAFTA, there were certainly good things on the table for the agricultural sector,” said Trump.
The NAFTA agreement entered into January 1, 1994, and created the world’s largest free trade area. Two decades later, that agreement isn’t exactly balanced. There are winners and losers at every trade agreement. Trade has quadrupled since the NAFTA agreement went into effect, and countries like Mexico, whom rely heavily on the agricultural industry, are looking to lose a lot.
The White House official acknowledged that there is now “a new conversation” in the US government over its trade agreements. Trump has insisted on his willingness to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement, although he has also said he does not want a “trade war.” Certainly, the agreement has to adapt to changing circumstances.