[00:00.00]In August, the United States began renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
[00:12.76]As a candidate for president, Donald Trump called for talks on reworking the 1994 agreement, known as NAFTA.
[00:23.77]One result of NAFTA was an increase in agricultural exports from the United States.
[00:31.92]So American farmers are worried that any changes to the trade deal could hurt them financially.
[00:40.45]Ken Beck is a farmer in the state of Illinois.
[00:45.38]He says it is not easy to grow crops now.
[00:49.93]“Risky at best. There is no money in this game anymore.”
[00:53.73]Beck says his farm has been losing money in each of the past four years.
[01:00.43]He says corn and soy prices have dropped, while costs for fertilizer and seed are rising.
[01:11.59]He believes that the U.S. government can help him and other farmers by increasing trade.
[01:19.87]His hopes for increased demand, and higher crop prices, ended when the Trump administration decided to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP agreement.
[01:35.40]That is why Beck is closely watching the U.S. efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.
[01:42.38]“For a corn producer, grain producer, NAFTA’s been extremely good.”
[01:47.56]The United States is one of the top suppliers of agricultural products to Mexico.
[01:54.30]The U.S. exported more than $2.5 billion in corn to its southern neighbor in 2016.
[02:03.75]But this year there has been a decrease in Mexican imports of U.S. corn and soybean.
[02:11.98]Beck says that is because Mexico is buying crops from other countries.
[02:18.40]“Mexico, for the first time in history, bought corn from Argentina. Was it cheaper? No. But they are sending a signal.”
[02:27.44]Other signs that worry Beck are coming from President Trump, including his threat to withdraw from NAFTA.
[02:36.54]Beck says this creates uncertainty for American farmers.
[02:41.89]Tamara Nelsen works for the Illinois Farm Bureau, a non-profit group working for the state’s farmers.
[02:50.40]“If you have a shock -- like pulling out of TPP or not keeping the agreement going on NAFTA, it makes the markets nervous and it lowers the farmers’ farm income."
[03:04.72]Nelsen says many farmers are worried.
[03:08.38]“We hope that some of the rhetoric, like anti-trade, anti-exports for agriculture, will turn around and we’ll actually have some achievements.”
[03:19.89]Farmer Ken Beck says he hopes only small changes will be made to NAFTA.
[03:25.77]And he says he hopes that whatever changes are made take place soon.
[03:31.35]“Decisions in the next few weeks are going to have to be made for next year already."
[03:35.52]I’m Phil Dierking.