Senator Chuck Grassley.

Iowa’s two U.S. senators are calling on the nation’s commerce secretary to create a detailed report on how any changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement would impact the country’s farmers and ranchers.

Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst co-signed the letter with 15 other senators from both parties. Grassley says they’re asking Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a “robust economic analysis” before changes are made to NAFTA.

Grassley says, “The letter is to have facts to back up what we have been telling the administration since March and to let the administration know that this is a very difficult and dangerous situation for agriculture.” It is “imperative,” according to Grassley, that prior to any alterations on NAFTA or any other free trade agreement, an economic analysis illustrates the impact on the full supply chain of the industries involved.

“We want a definitive appraisal of the impact on agriculture if NAFTA would go down or if NAFTA is renegotiated in a way that’s detrimental to agriculture,” Grassley says. “It’s that simple.” As the world’s top exporter of food and agricultural products, the letter says U.S. agriculture depends on access to international markets to sell their products.

The fifth round of NAFTA renegotiations are underway and Grassley says any potential changes in trade policy need to be positive for agriculture, especially since so many producers are struggling financially.

“I suppose I could express it from a purely Iowa standpoint that Mexico is the biggest importer of our corn,” Grassley says, “but it’s bigger than that.” Grassley says the president ran on a promise that he’d get us a better deal in trade agreements, and he’s following through on the promise. It’s a “tricky process,” Grassley says, in that when you try to help manufacturing, you could be hurting agriculture.