State and Farm Bureau hopeful for improvements to NAFTA

Nov 29, 2017

Governor Rick Snyder made comments at a Michigan Farm Bureau event on Tuesday about the need to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to help Michigan’s farmers.

Mexico, Canada, and the US have already met for several rounds of negotiations with the goal of a tentative deal in early 2018.

Exports to Canada and Mexico represent 60 percent of the state’s agricultural exports - and state and farm bureau representatives say the deal could have a huge impact on the state’s agricultural economy.

John Kran is a legislative council for the Michigan Farm Bureau. He said he says farmers want increased access and protections.

“Our dairy producers would like to see more access into Canada, that’s been a sticking point from the beginning, and there’s certain elements within our fruit and vegetable sector that would like to see more access into these countries and more protections from some of the product coming in from these countries during peak harvest time.”

Kran said the trade agreement needs to be updated.

“So, for example, there were some food safety requirements that were put into place in the discussions around the trans-pacific partnership and we’d like to see those put into the NAFTA negotiations so that other countries are operating on the same playing field as us in terms of food safety and quality.”

Jamie Zmitko-Summers is with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. She said a clear definition of Genetically Modified Foods will be important.

“Other things like organic products, that’s something that’s come online in the last twenty years. Making sure we have the same policies and approvals of what is considered organic so everyone is playing on a level playing field between all three countries.”

Zmitko said it’s been over 20 years since NAFTA has been updated.

Representatives from the US, Mexico, and Canada are expected to meet again towards the end of December.