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NAFTA and Californian agriculture

Since the US announced its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in May 2017, various highly-publicized negotiations have been held in Canada, the US, and Mexico. Much has been said on the outcome of these negotiations. But on the impact of a US withdrawal from the agreement, particularly on California agriculture, much less has been written.

California is the United States’ largest producer of agriculture, responsible for 85% of the country’s wine; two-thirds of all fruits and nuts, and one-third of US vegetables. Agri-food production in California employs hundreds of thousands of people and generates over $45 billion in annual revenue.

A withdrawal from NAFTA would result in the loss of California farm jobs and reduced market access for California farms and ranches. Overall, close to 14 million US jobs depend on free trade between Canada and Mexico, including 1.5 million jobs in California.

California’s family farms and hard-working agriculture workers will bear the brunt of new tariffs that would be implemented in the absence of NAFTA. California agriculture products exported to Canada and Mexico like wine, tomatoes, almonds, and even pastries would be subject to these tariffs, which could be as high at 11 percent.

Canada is California’s top destination for agriculture exports, which are valued at over $4.1 billion annually. California producers will most certainly lose market access to Canada and Mexico, because of increased costs.

That is why, according to, California’s farm and ranching communities should make their voices heard in Washington through their elected representatives in Congress, advocating for an outcome to NAFTA that maintains access to important Canadian and Mexican export markets.

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