Wisconsin farmers organizations join group to support NAFTA

Wisconsin State Farmer

MADISON (AP) - Several Wisconsin farmers organizations have joined a new coalition in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The WI cranberry industry exports as much as 40 percent of its products.

The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association and the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association have become part of the new Americans for Farmers and Families coalition, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The group is made up of more than 30 national and state organizations. It aims to lobby President Donald Trump and Congress about the importance of NAFTA negotiations.
Farmers are concerned about measures that will limit trade, said Tom Lochner, executive director of the cranberry growers association.

"The discussions that cause delays in or significant trade barriers being erected are only going to come back to harm American businesses and American farmers," he said.
Negotiations could have a broader impact than just trade with Canada and Mexico as other countries observe how the U.S. handles negotiations, Lochner said.

"Free trade and open trade is a positive for everybody involved, whether it's the exporters or the importers," he said. "It just helps grow the overall market for cranberry products; and if we can do that, we can see our growers be able to farm in a profitable manner."

The cranberry industry exports as much as 40 percent of its products, Lochner said.

While Wisconsin doesn't export much of its vegetable product, international trade is still an important issue to the vegetable industry, said Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association.

"Every potato that's sold out of the U.S. opens up a little more of a market within the U.S. for domestic trade," Houlihan said.