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Delaware farmers praise proposed changes to NAFTA

Delaware Public Media

Delaware's Farm Bureau says it supports President Trump’s revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was signed by the leaders of all three countries late last year, and will replace NAFTA if approved by the three respective legislatures.

New data from an annual Business Roundtable study shows more than 37,300 jobs in Delaware are supported by trade with Canada and Mexico, and Delaware exported $1.2 billion worth of goods and services to the two countries in 2017.

Among Delaware’s main exports to Mexico and Canada is dairy.

Delaware Farm Bureau President Richard Wilkins calls NAFTA a good trade agreement, but adds the changes in the USMCA would be a net positive for Delaware farmers with no downside.

“Well for dairy farmers it gives us increased access into the Canadian marketplace. Even for poultry farmers, it does give us a greater access into Canada for poultry,” said Wilkins.

Poultry led Delaware’s entire ag industry in the state’s 2017 census with more than $1.1 billion in production. And, according to the Business Roundtable study, 97% of the First State’s dairy exports go to either Mexico or Canada.

Wilkins also praises the USMCA’s measure to standardize the regulatory review process between the three countries for new technologies.

“When the original NAFTA was created there was a lot of technology that did not yet exist in the agricultural marketplace and what I’m referring to is some of the new plant breeding techniques,” he said.

Wilkins says he hopes the deal passes Congress, lifting tariffs between the three countries and returning trade to normalcy.

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