Trump closure of US-Mexico border could be ‘disastrous’ for farmers

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

US-Mexico trade battle warning

Related tags: Pork, Beef

The US National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has insisted that President Donald Trump stop his threats to close the US-Mexico border, claiming it would be a “disastrous” decision for farmers.

Earlier this week, Trump had said he would close the border as part of his ongoing fight with Congress over immigration and his policy of a Mexican wall. He has since backtracked and given the country a "one-year warning"​.

The NFU said that amidst the escalating rhetoric and threats from President Trump, the decision would effectively cripple trade with US agriculture’s top trading partner. 

NFU president Roger Johnson said that President Trump was again risking essential trade markets and having no regard for the American family farmer and ranchers.

Johnson said: “Shutting down the US-Mexico border would be disastrous for trade with our top agricultural trading partner, and the effects would be consistent with the numerous other trade disruptions the President has self-inflicted on our country: lost markets and lower prices for products grown and raised by family farmers and ranchers.” ​ 

He accused Trump of digging American agriculture “into a deep hole​”.

We’ve lost markets that took decades to build and, worse yet, we’ve lost our reputation as a reliable trading partner. Threats to close our border worsen this reputation, digging our hole deeper and depressing farm prices for years to come​,” he said.

Many American farm families are already in dire financial strain because of a drastic decline in farm prices over the past five years. Unfortunately, the President’s tactless, flailing approach to trade has exacerbated the situation. In order to begin to fill the hole he has single-handedly dug, he must work to repair relationships, not make them worse.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service statistics, Mexico is expected to be the second largest export market for American agricultural goods this year, importing an anticipated US$19.7bn worth of farm products.

The US Chamber of Commerce called for a common-sense solution and said closing the border would “only produce an economic calamity​” and was “counterproductive​”.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the US Chamber of Commerce, said: “Closing the US-Mexico border would inflict severe economic harm on American families, workers, farmers, and manufacturers across the United States. US trade with Mexico exceeds $1.7bn daily, and nearly half a million people legally cross the southern border every day as workers, students, shoppers, and tourists​.”  

Pork exports have already suffered, due to the relationship between Mexico and the US. US pork had enjoyed duty-free status under the North American Free Trade Agreement. But last year, in response to US tariffs on Mexican imports of steel and aluminium, Mexico increased its rate on US pork muscle cuts from zero to 20% in July. 

Related topics: Meat

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