>> The American farming industry is gearing up for battle with Washington to protect its prized export market in Mexico as US president Donald Trump pushes to revamp the NAFTA free trade pact. Farmers are eyeing an important deadline, July 17th, when US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is scheduled to submit a report to Congress that will provide the first peek at the administration's goals for NAFTA, a deal that has helped US farmers for 23 years, eliminating Mexican tariffs and quotas.
Reuters correspondent Richard Cowan.>> This year it's projected that the United States will sell about $18 billion worth of farms goods to Mexico. These are commodities like corn, dairy, pork, beef and the worry is that those $18 billion in exports which help the US farm community, and its bottom line, that could get hurt, that it could be nicked, or worse.
They worry that in the meantime, with this negotiation up in the air, Mexico might start looking elsewhere.>> Using the language of doom and economic destruction that they hope resonates with Trump, farmers across the nation are issuing a warning to Washington. If NAFTA's current benefits are taken away, it would threaten the health of the entire sector, and the jobs of the 125,000 Americans employed by it.
They are bombarding the White House with phone calls and letters, public comments and face to face meetings with top officials who have Trump's ear to get their message heard.>> Farmers are a pretty powerful group and so they have lobbyists and they have a lot of lobbyists. Right now, in one example, there's about 130 farm commodity groups and agribusinesses, large companies that have linked up together to lobby the Trump administration with their basic message being please leave us alone.
Try to leave us alone, try to protect us in the negotiations.>> The doubts and fears about Trump's NAFTA initiative come at a time of falling crop prices, coupled with fewer plantings, a bad combination for farmers.