Don't mess with family — Perdue's message to the rest of the Trump cabinet

Blood is thicker than water, and you should never mess with family.

As I look back on the trilateral meeting between the agricultural leaders from Canada, the United States and Mexico, U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has repeatedly emphasized the word ‘family’. With spouses included, this triple date included local Savannah, Georgia hospitality and even ice cream.

For Perdue, I believe this over-the-top cozy family get-together had a very strategic purpose.

He’s sending a clear message to the rest of the Trump cabinet, especially the trade department and the president himself — don’t mess with our trilateral ag family in your quest to “win.”

“The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has greatly helped our respective agricultural sectors as well as our consumers who have benefitted from an ever-growing variety of safe, affordable food products all year around. While even the best trading partnerships face challenges from time to time, our agricultural differences are relatively few in the context of the $85 billion in agricultural trade that flows between our three nations each year

— joint statement from MacAulay, Perdue and Calzada

The need for this message from Perdue was reinforced a day later when President Trump visited Iowa, where he said American farmers and ranchers are losing due to “terrible, terrible trade deals,” and “we are gonna start doing much better. You produce the product but you work way to hard and way too long to make a living.”

Has the President listened to anything that Sonny Perdue has said? Trade has been overwhelmingly great for agriculture. Dairy is the one point of contention, but the vast majority of the U.S. ag industry is begging Trump’s trade leads, Robert Lighthizer and Wilbur Ross, to take a “do no harm approach.”

In Trump’s speech in Iowa, he seemed to forget he was speaking to farmers and not coal miners in his anti-trade messaging. Corn growers in Iowa have benefited greatly from trade, with corn exports to Mexico and DDG exports to China.

Increasingly it appears Perdue is going to have to be vocal in defending existing beneficial relationships through the bilateral deals and NAFTA negotiation.

Trump always talks about winning. Clearly after the trilateral meeting Perdue is concerned about his trilateral ag family losing going forward.

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