OTTAWA – Humans, sometimes, prefer to see the world as glass half-full. For Scott Frazier, a farmer and rancher from Texas, that tendency explains a lot about the free trade debate in the U.S.
“Like everything, everyone wants to cry wolf. But no one wants to pat somebody on the back for the good things…. Human nature wants to see the bad. We want to see the car wreck,” said Frazier, who grows corn, sorghum and raises cattle near the town of Chapman Ranch, close to Corpus Christi, TX.
On Friday Frazier will be in Montreal for the sixth round of re-negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Frazier and other U.S. farmers, from different geographies and industries within American agriculture, are traveling to Montreal to show their support for NAFTA. The producers will represent Farmers for Free Trade, a lobby group that promotes the benefits of agricultural trade.
Farmers for Free Trade and many producers throughout the U.S. are worried that Mexico and Canada will start buying ag commodities, like corn, from nations other than the U.S.
“The potential for extended NAFTA negotiations and the continued threat of withdrawal has created uncertainty in the agricultural community,” Farmers for Free Trade said in a statement.
Frazier is definitely worried about losing markets for crops that he grows on his farm. He estimated that 40 percent of the grain exported from Texas goes to Mexico and another eight to 10 percent goes to Canada.
Since he lives only two hours from the Mexican border Frazier thinks more about crops that are sold into Mexico, like corn and sorghum.
“If you lose a third of your demand, almost overnight, that’s really detrimental,” he said from his farm at Chapman Ranch.
Frazier and tens of thousands of other farmers may value NAFTA but many Americans do not. One of the Americans who frequently says negative and nasty things about NAFTA is also the most powerful, Donald Trump.
The President has said, hundreds of times, that NAFTA is the worst trade deal in history and should be ripped up or re-negotiated.
From Frazier’s perspective, Trump’s harsh words are mostly a negotiating tactic.
“Our President has made some comments that are kind of rough and have ruffled some feathers…. Some of that I think is posturing.”
As for the other Americans who oppose NAFTA and think it’s a horrible deal for the U.S., Frazier said those folks are mis-informed.
He said it’s comparable to the public’s knowledge, or lack of knowledge, about food and farming.
“Folks think milk comes from the grocery store…. (Or) that box of cereal just happened to show up as a box of cereal at the store,” Frazier said.
“I think the average consumer in the U.S. doesn’t know enough about it (NAFTA) to really have an opinion. They wouldn’t know.”
By traveling to Montreal, Frazier is hoping to inform some of his fellow Americans about the benefits of NAFTA.
He remains hopeful that skeptical Americans will change their opinion and see NAFTA as a glass half-full.
“I think there’s a whole lot more good than bad (in NAFTA),” he said. “I’m pretty confident our countries can work the details out and get a re-negotiated NAFTA… to the benefit of all three countries.”