Conaway, delegation to discuss NAFTA in Canada ahead of 4th round

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) leads a congressional delegation to Canada this weekend to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We’ve got a couple of specific producer issues to talk about,” said Chairman Conaway, in an interview provided by the House Agriculture Committee, “but the broad message would be to our Canadian counterparts that says, ‘you guys got to get on the ball; you’ve got to get this done.”

Conaway will be joined by Reps. David Rouzer (R-NC), John Faso (R-NY), Ted Yoho (R-FL), who are each members of the House Agriculture Committee; and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).  The lawmakers will discuss production agriculture issues and other trade issues in advance of the next round of NAFTA negotiations.

“Markets are being upset and anxiety created; that’s not good for trade among the three countries,” said Conaway.  “There’s no reason to make that happen, so hopefully we’ll be able to communicate a sense of urgency.”

Just ahead of the fourth round of renegotiations, beginning Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Conaway agrees with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s assessment that talks need to move faster.

Although there are agriculture trade issues that Conaway is confident will be negotiated successfully and quickly, the Texas lawmaker concedes that there will be difficulty in getting Canada to resolve its dairy sector’s supply management system.

“Don’t anticipate a lot of movement on the dairy side, because it is such an intractable problem,” he said.  “The quota system up there has been monetized and the amount of money associated with it makes reform to that issue really difficult.”

In spite of that, however, Conaway insists that negotiations advance in a timely manner.

“Just because it’s hard,” said Conaway, “doesn’t mean it’s something we shouldn’t be doing or shouldn’t be trying.”

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