After hearing directly from Iowa farmers, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), both members of the Agriculture Committee, are urging U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to intervene in Mexico’s plan to end genetically-modified corn imports. The country’s proposed ban would effectively phase out the import of 90 percent of U.S. corn by January 2024. Currently, Iowa corn growers export 16 million tons to Mexico each year.
In a letter to Ambassador Tai, the Iowa senators write: “Any interruption to [corn export] shipments will severely affect our farmers and the state’s economy, and have dire economic consequences for the entire Corn Belt. President Obrador’s decree is not only a non-starter for America’s farmers, but it is also impossible to implement… Despite overtures to the Mexican government for nearly two years, there is little indication from the country’s leadership that it will adhere to its commitments under USMCA. The time has come for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to intervene on this issue. I am respectfully calling on you to formally request dispute settlement consultations under Article 31.4 of USMCA.”
In 2020, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Mexico would phase out genetically-modified corn – which includes corn grown by Iowa farmers – and the use of herbicide glyphosate by 2024. In October, the sentiment was reaffirmed by Mexico’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Victor Suarez who stated Mexico was on track to cut its imports of U.S. yellow corn in half.
A 10-year forecast found the ban would cause the U.S. economy to lose $73.89 billion in economic output, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would go down by $30.55 billion. In the first year of Mexico’s ban, U.S. corn growers and industry partners would suffer $3.56 billion in losses, followed by a loss of $5.56 billion during the second year. This economic downturn would also lead to the loss of 32,000 U.S. jobs.
“We must do everything possible to stop this decree from being enacted,” said Pete Brecht, Iowa Corn Exports and The Grain Trade Committee Chair. “Iowa exports 630 million bushels of corn to Mexico every year and if the decree is enacted, corn growers will feel the impact as will businesses across the state.”