Recently retired AFBF economist: Trade worries have 'kept me awake at night'

Bilateral agreements not an effective substitute for larger pacts, such as NAFTA and TPP, Young says.

Ag _economist _trade _worries _kept _awake _night _1_636463610859996000 (1)

Bob Young, left, has worked for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, the Food & Agricultural Policy Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and as chief economist for the American Farm Bureau.

By Jim Taylor

Count recently retired American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist Bob Young as a big believer in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“There’s an awful lot of gains that U.S. agriculture’s had out of NAFTA,” he said. “So some of these rumbles we’ve had about how we’re close to the edge of pulling out of NAFTA, there better be something in place pretty quickly because agriculture can lose a lot if we decide to pull out of NAFTA.”

Young discussed the issue on the RFD Radio Network® on Tuesday as NAFTA discussions take place this week in Mexico City.

Young is also concerned about the U.S.’s role, or lack thereof, in other new or existing trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

“My biggest concern, the one that’s kept me awake at night, has been what action they’ve not taken on the trade front,” Young said. “Pulling out of TPP is a pretty significant hit in agriculture.”

Related: Mixed signals from ag secretary on NAFTA outlook. Click here

And he’s not as optimistic as some on the potential of bilateral agreements.

“The theory is we’re going to do bilateral negotiations and capture that stuff back,” Young said. “We haven’t started too many of those yet.”

But Young said agriculture has made some gains under the first year of the Trump administration, specifically with the rollback of the “waters of the U.S.” He also believes some provisions of a new tax deal could provide direct benefits for agriculture interests.  

“I think on the regulatory side, you have to be fairly positive,” Young said. “And I think at the end of the day, Congress is going to roll out some significant tax reform.”

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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