Uncertainty over NAFTA negotiations weighing on Kansas farmer

By  | 

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A trade agreement between North American countries is in jeopardy. President Trump says frequently he wants a better deal. All the uncertainty swirling around NAFTA is affecting life on the farm.

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) says leaving NAFTA would be disastrous for Kansas farms.

“Anytime trade negotiations are in jeopardy, we get nervous at the farm level,” said Dan Atkisson, a farmer from Stockton, KS.

Atkisson relies on neighborly love to sell beef, sorghum and wheat. Frequently that neighbor is Mexico. If NAFTA falls apart, his farm could as well.

“As agriculturists, as farmers and ranchers we’re all for open and free trade. Free markets work,” said Atkisson.

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) recently went to Mexico City for discussions surrounding the deal.
Marshall says representing an agriculture-heavy district got him a seat at the table where he voiced the concerns of his constituents.

“If we lose that NAFTA agreement it could literally be the cost of our farms, our community banks, our downtown grocery stores, even our hospitals would disappear,” said Marshall.

Marshall says talks went well, and expects the trade deal will be renewed. The White House says new taxes on steel imports will strengthen their position to make this deal.

“It actually greatly enhances the prospect we’re going to get a really great NAFTA deal because it basically gives us some leverage,” said Peter Navarro, a trade adviser at the White House.

Navarro recommended increasing steel import tariffs. While some in the president’s own party worry that could kick-off a trade war, Navarro doesn’t see that as likely.

“If they try to push us around in anyway on this, they have a lot more to lose than we do,” said Navarro.

Atkisson says he would be happy with a better deal, but can’t afford to see NAFTA crumble.

“It’s hard out here in the country to stomach that most of these trade negotiations are being leveraged on the backs of us as producers,” said Atkisson.

Marshall says another round of NAFTA negotiations are scheduled for next month.