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Governor joins Mexican grain buyers in support of NAFTA

Felipe Basparte of Mexico (NTV News)

Nebraska farmers stand with Mexican grain buyers, as they urge President Trump not to disrupt a huge market for Nebraska corn.

“Keep up the good parts of NAFTA and let’s not fix what ain’t broke,” said Jon Doggett of the National Corn Growers Association.

Mexican grain buyers say they’ve already reached out to Brazil, fearing NAFTA talks could be disruptive to buying American corn.

And farmers say that could be devastating to Nebraska, as the state sells $287 million worth of corn to Mexico yearly.

Doggett said, “Mexico is our number one market for corn. A lot of people on capitol hill don't know that, a lot of people downtown in the administration don't know that.:

Buyers like Felipe Basarte import hundreds of millions of bushels a year.

“It’s reliable and we know the price,” he said.

But reliability has been in question under President Trump who has said he wants to modernize NAFTA. Governor Pete Ricketts say the U.S. must maintain strong ties with Mexico.

During a press conference with ag leaders and a Mexican delegation, Ricketts said, “Billions of dollars in trade that's at risk if you disrupt this relationship with Mexico. When you're looking at the state of Nebraska and there are 34,000 jobs dependent on that, that impacts actual families here in our state.”

Grain buyers say they’re reassured after meeting with Nebraska farmers.

Basparte said, “It was good to know they, such as us are concerned and looking forward to maintain and strengthen relationships.”

Visits from grain buyers are not unusual. But to be joined by national ag leaders and the governor sends a clear signal, and they hope farmers are listening.

“I hope they understand our concerns and I’m sure they will lobby their authorities who make those decisions,” Basparte said.

Those like Doggett who’ve been in Washington for 30 years say they’ve never seen an administration like this, as they urge the White House to bring some stability for the American farmer, telling the president it’s ok to update trade deals, but don’t end them.

“Let’s make it better, let’s not throw it out,” Doggett said.

In general, Governor Ricketts said he hasn't heard from any industry who wants NAFTA to change.

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