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Aug 3, 2018
Press Release

GRAFTON, N.D. – Congressman Kevin Cramer met with residents of the Grafton area today to discuss trade, agriculture and rural health issues.

Cramer toured the recently updated Unity Medical Center and the new Community Health Service clinic. Health care for veterans, providing high quality and affordable rural health care, and meeting staffing needs were among the topics Cramer covered with hospital and clinic administrators.  

He hosted a Trade Townhall for area producers to discuss trade and tariffs. “There is plenty on the table right now regarding these issues,” Cramer said. “I want to hear your ideas and concerns, especially as they impact North Dakota agriculture.”


Joining Cramer for the Trade Townhall was Peter Davidson, the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Davidson was raised in Minnesota, and has family ties to North Dakota.  Early in his career he worked for Rep. Dick Armey, a Cando, N.D., native who represented the 26th District of Texas from 1985 to 2003.

Davidson said President Trump is committed to addressing unfair trade agreements. “He believes there is a need to create leverage to get trade partners to come to the table to re-examine agreements and ensure we have fair and reciprocal trade agreements,” he said.

He noted non-tariff barriers are also an issue, which especially impact agriculture trade.  Davidson believes the European Union is on the right path after having held several negotiation sessions with the United States.  Negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are also making progress, he said, addressing edible bean trade and potato trade barriers with Mexico. Ministerial exemptions, grading issues and loading prohibitions for truck in the United States are among the Canadian issues. 

“NAFTA needs modernization, and these negotiations don’t happen every day,” said Davidson.  “This is our chance to get the best deal we can and put our best proposal forward.”

Cramer said he speaks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regularly about the trade issues between Canada, Mexico and China and their impact on North Dakota agriculture.  “He is also optimistic about the potential for bilateral trade agreements between countries in Asian and Africa,” he said.  

Cramer said officials in the Trump Administration understand the time concerns about these negotiations as they relate to producers. “They know these are very real issues for and farmers and bankers, and are anxious to resolve them.”

Heather Ranck, the U.S. Commercial Service office director and international trade specialist, spoke about the export promotion assistance available to North Dakota producers.  Cramer recently introduced, H.R. 6150, the Promoting Rural Exports Act of 2018, which establishes rural export centers offering support services for rural business. 

Following the Trade Townhall, Cramer met with the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association about more specific details regarding trade with Canada, trucking restrictions and electronic logging device regulations impacting producers.