On Jan. 26, organizations along the North American wheat value chain sent a letter to President Donald Trump, President Peña Nieto of Mexico, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, as well as to lead negotiators from each country, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Minister Chrystia Freeland, stressing the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement to the wheat industry. Ranging from seed to bread and baked goods, key groups from the wheat value chain signed onto the letter.
“As we enter the sixth round of negotiations, it’s important to remember that NAFTA created the world's largest free trade area between the United States, Mexico and Canada,” said Gordon Stoner, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers and a wheat farmer from Outlook, Mont. “NAFTA has benefited not only wheat growers but all our partners along the entire value chain, from farmers to consumers and everyone in between. The fact that wheat producers and end users from all three countries would speak with one voice about the importance of NAFTA should speak volumes to our leaders.”
“The relationship between U.S. wheat farmers and Mexican flour millers and wheat food companies took off with NAFTA,” said Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates and a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “It is a highly successful partnership, with tariff-free access, that helped make Mexico our largest customer the past two years and supports revenue for wheat farmers from dozens of states.”
In the letter, the groups emphasized that an updated trade deal is critical to ensure that all stakeholders can work together to provide the highest quality products at the greatest value for both the supply chain and consumers. Further, the letter states that an integrated supply chain between the three countries is only effective with NAFTA in place.
“The industry understands the need to modernize the 23-year-old agreement, but it must be done in a way that benefits the food and agriculture sectors in all three countries,” continued Stoner. “It’s critical that all parties remember during the negotiations that when one link breaks, the entire chain is weakened.”
The following organizations signed the letter: American Bakers Association; Cámara Nacional de la Industria Molinera de Trigo (National Chamber of Industrial Wheat Millers, Mexico); Cereals Canada; NAWG; North American Millers’ Association; USW; Western Canadian Wheat Growers.
USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 17 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit uswheat.org.
NAWG is the primary representative in Washington, D.C. for wheat growers, working to ensure a better future for America’s growers, the industry, and the general public. NAWG works with a team of 20 state wheat grower organizations to benefit the wheat industry at state and national levels. From their offices in the Wheat Growers Building on Capitol Hill, NAWG’s staff members are in constant contact with state association representatives, NAWG grower leaders, members of Congress, congressional staff members and the public.
Source: U.S. Wheat Associates