News & Events
As negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada began talks this week to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is undertaking new and creative efforts to educate stakeholders at home and abroad about its importance to the continued growth of global agriculture trade.
The 23-year-old agreement sets the ground rules for one of the world's most valuable trading blocs and has led to enormous infrastructure integration and growth in regional grain trade.
As the parties look to modernize it, the Council and other agriculture stakeholders have supported updates while also defending the need for continued market access and measures to avoid retaliation against the sector in case of trade challenges.
Last week, the Council organized a team of U.S. and Mexican media members traveling to south Texas and Mexico to see firsthand the value NAFTA has created and talk to key stakeholders in the negotiations - grain producers, exporters, buyers and users.
The journalists from U.S. outlets DTN/Progressive Farmer, Farm Journal and Rural Radio Network and Mexican outlet Expansion visited U.S. farmers near the border, saw a border crossing as grain passed through by truck, and connected with one of the feed millers who accepted that grain just hours later.
They also spoke with the owner of a feedlot with 20,000 head of cattle fed on U.S. grains, the owner of a craft brewery looking abroad for his supply of malt, and a local U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) helping facilitate this trade, along with stops to visit large grain importers and a major import port on the Gulf of Mexico.
The stories, photos, videos and social media posts gathered by team participants are available across these outlets and offer farmers, rural communities and those in Washington seeking to represent their interests a unique perspective on the impact of the talks currently underway.
“Part of the Council’s mission to find and develop new markets is on the home front, telling the story of trade’s impact on farms and rural America,” said Melissa Kessler, USGC director of communications. “The media mission to Mexico, our social media presence and trade education activities like webinars and trade schools are parts of our effort to ensure we are helping those in the countryside see what we see every day in overseas markets and understand how important trade and market development are to them personally.”
As the NAFTA talks continue, the Council will engage closely to provide input to U.S. negotiators and push for conclusions that lead to further certainty and growth in the grains and biofuels sectors.
The Council will also continue to provide updates to its members and customers about the talks' progress and work with the industry, media and more to educate farmers about the importance of strong trade policy to their profitability.
"The Council has worked diligently for decades in both Canada and Mexico, building trusted relationships that are supported by strong policy in NAFTA," said Council President and CEO Tom Sleight in a statement Wednesday. "This agreement and the trade it has spurred have been critical to the growth of the U.S. feed grains industry. It is a foundational agreement in our global trade policy, and both farmers and negotiators must understand how important these markets - and free trade - are to agriculture’s profitability."