New trade deal could help some Ala. farmers

How U.S.-Japan trade deal could impact Alabama farmers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The new trade agreement between the United States and Japan could help some Alabama farmers. President Trump signed the agreement Oct. 7.

“This is a big deal for Alabama farmers and it’s a big deal for farmers all over the country as well,” said Mitt Walker, who is the Alabama Farmers Federation National Affairs Director.

The deal will cut tariffs imposed on $7 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products. Walker said the deal will open the market for more people to buy agricultural products like beef, pork, cheese and wine. For Alabama, cattle farmers will feel much of the impact.

“Japan is our number one destination for beef and pork products from the United States. Alabama is a big player in the beef industry," he said.

The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association said the state is ranked eighth in the U.S. for the number of farms with beef cattle.

Walker said the deal puts the U.S. on the same playing field as other countries tapping into Japan’s market.

“About a half-million jobs in our state depend on our farmers," Walker said. "Whether it’s the guys that are transporting their products. Whether it’s energy providers. You go down the list. As farmers do well, I think the overall economy does well also.”

With the new market, there will be a higher demand for U.S. agriculture products and, in return, Alabama farmers can raise the prices for their products.

“We need a good export market so therefore we need good trade deals with countries like Japan and China who would import our agriculture commodities," said William Birdsong with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

President Trump said Friday China had also agreed to purchase more U.S. agricultural products. Some Alabama soybean farmers have taken financial hits during the trade war with China.

“A tremendous deal for the farmers," Trump said. "A purchase of $40 to $50 billion worth of agricultural products.”

The president said it could take three to five weeks to write up an agreement.

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