Friday, April 28, 2017 12:46AM
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —
Central Valley growers are nervously watching their orchards hoping to avoid a trade war– knowing their future all depends on how NAFTA negotiations end.
President Donald Trump said, “I said, I will hold on the termination. Let’s see if we can make it a fair deal.”
Since the beginning of last year’s election President Trump has been vocal against NAFTA, blaming the agreement for destroying American jobs. On Thursday, the President backed out of withdrawing completely, deciding instead to work on a compromise with Mexico and Canada.
“It’s been a benefit to agriculture, here in California– it really has. So we kind of want to keep it that way,” said George Radanovich, California Fresh Fruit Association.
Radanovich said every year, the state exports more than 75 million pounds of fruit to Mexico. Under NAFTA there are no foreign tariffs, but backing out would cause taxes to jump 20-percent.
“Obviously tariffs make our products more expensive in other countries, and so when other countries try to increase our prices there, that does affect the amount of demand there is,” said Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno Farm Bureau.
For a state that exports 25-percent of its agriculture production, farmers said any kind of tariff would be crushing.
“Exports is incredibly important to the health and diversity of California agriculture, its hands down we produce way more than we could ever consume,” said Jacobson.
The President has not said specifically what he wants to re-negotiate other than modernizing the agreement, but local growers have a few ideas in mind.
“Don’t add tariffs to the equation, I think phytosanitary issues, health and safety issues those types of things I think could be improved,” said Radanovich.
The President said he is committed to working with Mexico and Canada in the coming weeks but is still willing to terminate the agreement if a fair deal can’t be made.