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Alabama Farmers Federation optimistic about trade negotiations, says aid package ‘is a step forward in helping farmers’

The Alabama Farmers Federation reacted with optimism to Monday’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailing how $6.3 billion in federal aid will assist farmers who face the uncertainty of trade negotiations and the disruption of retaliations.

The USDA’s plan is the first round of up to $12 billion in aid for farmers announced by President Donald Trump in July.

The Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs director Mitt Walker signaled optimism with Trump’s trade negotiations and said the aid serves as short-term relief that will ease concerns for the state’s farmers.

“Although we’re hopeful trade negotiations will end with better conditions for farmers, this package is a step forward in helping farmers deal with current uncertain markets,” Walker said in a statement.

Farmers have been caught in the middle of hardball negotiating by the president, with retaliatory measures by China, European nations, Turkey, Mexico and Canada hurting American agricultural exports in the interim.

Alabama lawmakers praised Trump after the president announced Monday that he has reached a preliminary new trade deal with Mexico called the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement – getting rid of the name NAFTA – with hopes that Canada will “negotiate fairly” and either join the new agreement in the near future or enter into a separate deal.

An eventual settling of trade tensions with Mexico and Canada would provide needed stability for Alabama industries, especially the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Canada was Alabama’s top export market last year and Mexico was its fourth largest.

The key in a NAFTA replacement, and any trade deal, will be lower barriers to entry than currently exist. Under NAFTA, American farmers have quadrupled their exports to Canada and Mexico and the two nations rank second and third, after China, as markets for American farm goods.

Read more from the Alabama Farmers Federation about the first round of trade aid here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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