3 Policy Issues Farmers Should Watch
By Anna-Lisa Laca, MILK, Online and Business Editor
via AgWeb - October 14, 2017
Over the summer, producers experienced policy whiplash as several key agricultural issues took center stage in Washington, D.C.
During his campaign, President Donald Trump promised several policy changes that would benefit agriculture. Now, some farmers are concerned his administration won’t follow through with repealing the Waters of the United States rule, reforming taxes or improving crop-insurance protections. They also fear the administration could hurt ag by pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
With so much on the table, here are the top policy issues you should keep an eye on this fall.
1. NAFTA Modernization
“I think the big thing going on right now is trade, specifically NAFTA,” says John Dillard of OFW Law, based in Washington, D.C.
Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are set to hold seven rounds of meetings to modernize NAFTA. During the first round of negotiations, Canada and Mexico started at home plate ready to bat while the Trump administration began on third base, says Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer’s Washington policy analyst. Canada and Mexico seek small changes, but U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer wants the opposite.
“The views of [Trump on NAFTA], which I completely share, are well-known,” Lighthizer says. “I want to be clear: He is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions … and a couple of updated chapters. We feel that NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and
needs major improvement.”
The elephant in the room during the second round of discussions in Mexico City: Trump’s threat to pull out of NAFTA. The president pledged to withdraw from the agreement before his election, then focused on renegotiating the deal, next offered a message about modernization and finally returned to his recent comments about withdrawal.
“I think that’s a very dangerous comment to make,” says Darci Vetter, former ag negotiator for the U.S. trade representative. “It casts a shadow on the negotiations.”
Some analysts think threatening to withdraw is a good negotiation tactic that gives the U.S. power over the discussion. Vetter thinks otherwise.
“We heard from the Mexican delegation [that] it’s hard to prepare if you’re trying to be productive at the table but your partner might walk away halfway through,” she points out...
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