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Governor Discusses NAFTA, Effects on Arkansas Agriculture and Need for Modernization Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry

By Staff, 01/16/18 4:20 PM

ROGERS, AR – Governor Asa Hutchinson joined local farmers, elected officials and business leaders at the World Trade Center Arkansas today in support of continued access to the markets of Canada and Mexico, free of unfair trade barriers.

Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, and farmers are the backbone, exporting billions of dollars worth of food and consumer products to Canada and Mexico, creating and supporting thousands of local jobs across the state. Canada and Mexico are also Arkansas’s first and second largest customers.

Additionally, a free North American marketplace allows Arkansans to enjoy a wide variety of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables from Mexico year round, such as berries and avocados. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume twice as much fruit and three times as many vegetables from Mexico and Canada, today as they did two decades ago.

“As the United States considers the future of NAFTA, the nation must be careful that it does not harm global trade,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Arkansas must be able to continue its access to North American markets unimpeded by unfair trade barriers. Otherwise, there will be serious harm to Arkansas’s agriculture and retail and manufacturing sectors.”

Jeff Lindsey, an Elkins, Ark., turkey grower whose Double L Farms supplies turkeys to Cargill, voiced his concern at today’s event.

“Farming requires a lot of hard work every single day, but I love what I do,” Lindsey said. “Thanks to NAFTA, Mexico has become the No. 1 export market for U.S. turkey products, taking delivery of more than half of all our turkey exports. If the U.S. were to walk away from NAFTA, the price of those products would take a serious hit, and my family’s farming operation would be hard-pressed to absorb the economic consequences that would bring.”

Continued cross-border trade has proven to be very important to local farmers and businesses. As President Trump considers trade agreements and works toward fairness and modernization of the pact, the administration must be mindful of the basic principle that we do no harm to our global trading relationships. It is clear that there is great potential for harm in Arkansas, especially to our farmers, if the United States reverses course regarding cross-border trade.

Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson Foods, Inc., joined the Governor in support.

“Good trading relationships start with our neighbors and NAFTA is a key to our export success,” Ramsey said. “A healthy export industry benefits independent farmers like those who grow chicken, cattle and hogs for our company, as well as the communities where they live.”

Prices will inevitably rise in all three countries as local businesses work to reorganize their supply chains. Significant price impacts on staples such as apparel, fruit and vegetables and electronics are anticipated.

“We believe free and open trade is good for our suppliers and our customers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico – the demand for U.S. products and produce is strong in our North American corridor markets,” said Arjan Both, Vice President of Global Sourcing for Walmart. “Our stores offer a significant export platform for U.S. farmers and manufacturers and NAFTA has helped to lower costs of essential products, like food for our customers, and helped to create U.S. jobs through exports.”

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