Agriculture Secretary Perdue talks NAFTA, ag economy during visit to ‘Mecca of farming’ | Local

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made several mentions of the 23-year-old trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada during his trip to the Decatur area to visit the Farm Progress Show and meet with agriculture industry leaders. The three countries began formal negotiations earlier this month to rework the trade pact that Trump blames for hundreds of thousands of lost U.S. factory jobs. 

Perdue said he had spoken to Trump as recently as Wednesday morning about how U.S. farmers benefit from the deal that allows them to export their goods to neighboring nations.

“The president understands very clearly that NAFTA has been very beneficial to agriculture,” Perdue said. “The challenge is, he’s looking at the trade deficit that’s occurred after NAFTA was done, primarily in auto and auto parts. … 

“We hope we can find a solution that reconciles both of those, and resolves those issues,” said Perdue, a former Georgia governor who was confirmed in April as the administration’s agriculture secretary. 

A second round of negotiations on the accord set to begin Friday in Mexico City. Trump said at a rally last week in Phoenix that he would “end up probably terminating” NAFTA “at some point.”

NAFTA erased most trade barriers separating the U.S., Canada and Mexico and fostered a rapid rise in commerce and closer diplomatic ties among the three countries. The agreement has long fueled heated criticism in the United States because it is blamed for some American-based manufacturers moving operations south of the border to capitalize on lower-wage Mexican labor.

But agriculture industry leaders say they have generally benefited from the deal. In Congress, farm-state lawmakers have urged U.S. negotiators to do nothing that would imperil U.S….

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