Corn Grower Leaders, Joined by Administration and Congressional Officials, Warn of Consequences from Mexico Decree, Call for Swift Action
In a briefing for members of Congress and staff today, corn farmer leaders told U.S. officials to continue to hold the line with Mexico over a proposed ban that would block most U.S. corn imports into that country, landing a blow to the American economy,
The statements included praise from corn farmers for the Biden administration’s most recent action, which took a tough position with Mexico over the proposed ban.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced in late 2020 that he would implement a decree banning biotech corn into the country, beginning in early 2024. The vast majority of U.S. corn is biotech. The briefing, hosted by the National Corn Growers Association, was held on the one-year mark from the decree’s effective date.
“This decree would cut most American corn growers off from what has historically been our largest export market,” NCGA President Tom Haag noted after the briefing. “That’s why it is extremely important that U.S. officials continue to ensure that Mexico lives up to its commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).”
Haag was joined on the panel by Andy Jobman, farmer and chair of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association; Representative Adrian Smith (R-Neb.); and Jason Hafemeister, acting deputy for trade at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Over the fall, NCGA launched an effort to encourage the Biden administration to file a dispute settlement under the USMCA if López Obrador moves forward with the decree.
According to forecasts, the ban on biotech corn would cause the U.S. economy to lose $73.8 billion over ten years in economic output along with 32,217 jobs annually with labor income falling $18 billion.
“The export market is the largest market for Illinois corn farmers,” said Matt Rush, IL Corn Growers Association President and farmer from Fairfield, IL. “If this proposed ban is allowed to come to fruition, it will doubtless impact Illinois corn farmers in significant ways. Even if the ban is altered to impact only white corn, our office estimates that over 2.3 million bushels or about 11,000 acres of Illinois-grown white corn was exported to Mexico in 2022. This is an issue we can’t afford to ignore.”
The Biden administration began talks with Mexican officials late last year and Mexico offered a revised decree. Last week, President Biden dispatched senior aides from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the office of the U. S. Trade Representative (USTR) to Mexico City to meet with officials in the López Obrador administration.
In a statement following the meeting, USTR and USDA officials said the revised decree offered by Mexico to date was not sufficient. The officials said they made it clear to their Mexican counterparts that they are considering all options, including taking formal steps to enforce the issue under the USMCA.
NCGA applauded the Biden administration for rejecting the most recent proposal, which would have undermined science-based regulatory principles, violated USMCA and set a negative global precedent. Panelists during today’s briefing echoed that sentiment.