NAFTA’s Importance in U.S. Ag Exports

Whether farmers are raising cattle in Oklahoma, milking cows in Vermont, growing fruits and vegetables in Florida, or growing corn, soybeans and wheat in America’s heartland, their agricultural income depends on trade. USDA estimates that 25 percent of all U.S. agricultural production is exported, and for some commodities that percentage is even higher.


Many of these trade benefits come on the back of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has helped to increase U.S. agricultural exports by more than 200 percent since 1993. Today’s article builds on recent Farm Bureau analyses of NAFTA by reviewing the share of agricultural exports to NAFTA partners by state and by commodity.

Reviewing the share of agricultural exports to NAFTA partners by state and by commodity provides additional perspective on the value of NAFTA to each state. Here is the dairy data. It’s important to note that this data reflects U.S. Census Foreign Trade Division agricultural trade data, and may not be the point of origin for agricultural commodities.


U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market was not a part of NAFTA. Nevertheless, the Canadian dairy industry is a key component of the NAFTA 2.0 conversation (i.e. Canadian supply management and new milk pricing provisions). Market Intel has reviewed these issues in depth, U.S. Dairy and NAFTA and Canada Closes Door on U.S. Dairy Farmers. As such, mending NAFTA is incredibly important to the U.S. dairy industry.

During 2016, $4.7 billion in U.S. dairy products were shipped to Mexico and Canada, two of the top three dairy export markets. Of total dairy exports, $1.2 billion was shipped to Mexico and $631 million was shipped to Canada. Combined Mexico and Canada represented nearly 40 percent of U.S. dairy product exports in 2016. Figure 6 highlights the percentage of dairy product exports by state to our NAFTA partners.

American Farm Bureau – Market Intel