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Midwest farmers hope trade deal with Mexico will rescue corn prices

By Jessie Higgins
Midwest farmers hope trade deal with Mexico will rescue corn prices
Farmers have faced multiple blows to crop prices this year from President Donald Trump's various trade disputes with Mexico, Canada and China. Photo by Jessie Higgins/UPI

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Midwestern farmers hope the proposed trade agreement between the United States and Mexico may be a sign that the trade disputes wreaking havoc on corn and soy prices are coming to an end.

But with nothing concrete -- and few details on what the trade deal entails -- their optimism is cautious.

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"It's still a long way to go," said Curt Mether, an Iowa farmer who serves as president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. "It's an agreement to have an agreement."

President Donald Trump on Monday announced he had reached an understanding with Mexico regarding trade. The new deal, which does not yet include Canada, would dissolve the North American Free Trade Agreement, creating a new deal between the two countries.

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That deal, Trump said, will benefit farmers.

"Our farmers are going to be so happy," Trump said. "You know, ... the farmers have stuck with me; I said we were going to do this. And Mexico has promised to immediately start purchasing as much farm product as they can."

That is welcome news to farmers, who have faced multiple blows to crop prices this year from Trump's various trade disputes with Mexico, Canada and China.

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"It seems like there is a new problem with trade every other day here," said Aaron Carlson, an Illinois farmer, and president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

Trump's trade war with China caused American soybean prices to crash after China imposed a 20 percent tariff on the crop. China was the United States' top importer of soy.

In response, the Trump administration has promised $12 billion in aid to farmers affected by the tariffs.

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The lack of a trade deal with Mexico -- America's top corn buyer -- threatened to have a similar impact on corn prices.

"A trade deal with Mexico will help us out a lot," Carlson said. "This is really a huge deal for the corn industry."

Canada is also a large importer of corn, Carlson said.

The Trump administration has said it will negotiate with Canada to join the new trade agreement.

"I understand where the administration is coming from on these trade deals," Carlson said. "But we have to be really careful, because this is hurting us. These trade deals are a really big deal."

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