Mexico, which exported surplus corn as recently as the early 1980s
, now buys a third of the corn it consumes from the United States. Last year, it purchased $2.5 billion worth of corn from Iowa, Nebraska and other states, making Mexico the largest corn export market for U.S. farmers.
Whereas NAFTA has benefited many U.S. farmers, Mexico’s agricultural industry has not fared as well. Tomato and avocado farmers have benefited, but large swaths of the country that long relied on the cultivation of corn have been devastated by competition with U.S. farmers.
Small family farms in particular simply could not compete with big U.S. farmers who enjoy hefty federal subsidies
. In the 23 years since NAFTA took effect, annual corn imports to Mexico grew from roughly 3.1 million metric tons to nearly 14 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Grains Council.