Last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested a 20% tax on Mexican goods as a potential way to pay for a border wall. That, along with the promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has some Iowans worried about trade.
The Iowa Farm Bureau says Iowa is number two in agricultural exports in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands of jobs here are due to export opportunities.
President Craig Hill says, "Our corn, our soybeans, our pork, our beef, particularly our meat products, turkey included, much of that goes to Mexico, our number 1 export destination. Thirty-seven counties in Iowa receive over half of their income from agriculture. Much of agriculture income is derived from exports, so it's critically important to rural Iowa that we maintain our export opportunities."
Hill says a progressive export trade negotiation is needed. Twenty-three years of NAFTA has quadrupled agriculture exports from the U.S. to Mexico, which Hill calls a success. He says the farm bureau wants to build on that, not interrupt the opportunities to export to Mexico.
He says, "Retaliatory tariffs, disagreements, disputes over NAFTA will result in a trade war. A trade war will not benefit this state well at all."
Iowa produces a lot of agricultural goods, but also manufactures a lot as well. Hill adds that requires an immigrant labor force, many who do jobs that Iowans don't want to. He says it's important not to disrupt that labor force.