At the Spronk family farm in Edgerton, Minnesota, we are pork producers and crop farmers operating since 1991. When we formed our partnership, we had about 6,000 hogs and just a few years ago reached over 200,000 along with about 3,000 acres of adjacent cropland. Like many hog farmers, we are heavily invested in exporting and international business. Approximately 25% of our farm’s annual revenue is derived from exporting, totaling nearly $8 million. Our top international markets are Japan, Mexico, China, and South Korea. Free trade agreements matter to hog farmers. In fact, the pork industry exports more to the 20 countries where we have free trade agreements with than the rest of the world combined, with the exception of China.
I’ve learned over the years that prosperity depends on things I can control, like hard work, and other things no one can. But today, pork producers across rural America are profoundly concerned about a potential man-made disaster: The prospect of losing access to the Mexican and Canadian markets for our products. That’s exactly what would happen if the United States withdraws from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Exports are critically important to our sector, and terminating NAFTA would send a shockwave around the globe. We are already falling behind our competitors in negotiating trade agreements, and withdrawing from NAFTA would doom U.S. prospects to negotiate new deals to keep us competitive.