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Missouri farmers wait, worry as Nafta negotiations drag on

Missouri farmers’ livelihoods will be at risk if President Donald Trump follows through on threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Missouri would be among the states most negatively affected if Nafta were repealed, according to an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Sixty-nine percent of Missouri’s agricultural exports went to Nafta partners in 2016, according to the farm bureau. Missouri was one of 12 states with more than 50 percent of agricultural exports going to Nafta partners.

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a Thursday deadline for reworking the deal, but negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico are unlikely to meet that target.

In 2016, Missouri’s agricultural exports generated more than $3.6 billion in revenue, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That year’s data is the most recent available.

Missouri stands to lose at least 100,000 jobs in agriculture if the U.S. pulls out of Nafta, said Michael Miller, an assistant professor in the School of Agricultural Sciences at Northwest Missouri State University.

Trump has promised to withdraw from the treaty. He campaigned on the issue and has said the agreement hurts U.S. manufacturing and takes away domestic jobs.

Fifty-one percent of all agricultural exports from Missouri go to Mexico, Miller said.

“That’s a greater percentage than any other state,” Miller said. “It would be, for the agriculture sector, a significant blow” to withdraw.

Eighty-nine percent of corn exported from Missouri goes to Nafta partners, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. More than 90 percent of soybean and wheat exports go to Nafta partners.

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