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Farm Groups Warn of Damage as Trump Threatens Border Closure

Without elaboration, President Trump demanded on Wednesday that Congress “immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border” in his latest threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border. The largest U.S. farm group, the American Farm Bureau Federation, asked that agricultural trade not be affected if there are restrictions, and the National Farmers Union, the second-largest group, said a closure would be disastrous.

Exports are a key part of U.S. farm revenue. Canada and Mexico are the two largest customers for ag exports.

“While our members support border security, they are increasingly anxious about what ‘closing the border’ might mean for their farms and ranches,” said Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall. “If further efforts are undertaken to secure the border, we want to make sure farmers and ranchers are not adversely affected by any of these efforts, and that producers who depend on international markets and workers have an assurance that their farm businesses are not jeopardized.”

NFU president Roger Johnson said Trump was “yet again risking essential trade markets and our country’s once-pristine trading reputation. … We’ve lost markets that took decades to build.” The Western Growers Association, speaking for fruit and vegetable growers, said a shutdown of the border, or even a slowdown in border crossings, “would profoundly interrupt our ability to bring fresh, healthy produce to all Americans” and cause millions of dollars of losses. The group said “real immigration reform” is the solution to border security as well as to assuring a legal agricultural workforce.

“Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!” said Trump on social media.

Administration officials are looking at ways to mitigate the impact of a closing, such as allowing freight traffic to continue while blocking tourism, said ABC News.

On Tuesday, Trump rattled off a list of immigration issues he wants Congress to act on. “I could do it in 45 minutes,” he said. “We need to get rid of chain migration. We need to get rid of catch and release and visa lottery. And we have to do something about asylum. And to be honest with you, you have to get rid of [immigration] judges.”

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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