Perdue: New NAFTA mantra must be ‘Do no harm to agriculture’

With negotiations for the “new NAFTA” to begin next week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he is repeating one message to the White House: First, do no harm to agriculture. U.S. farm exports to Canada and Mexico quadrupled under the 1994 trade agreement, and U.S. farm groups fear that renegotiating the deal will disrupt their duty-free access to the border nations.

Perdue’s message matches the views of many U.S. farm groups, although some producers, such as tomato growers in Florida or wheat farmers in the northern Plains, say NAFTA did not help them.

Perdue is credited with helping to persuade President Trump to renegotiate NAFTA rather than withdraw from the free-trade agreement. He brought to the White House a map that showed rural areas, which voted heavily for Trump, would be among the areas hardest hit if NAFTA was scrapped.