Mexico buys a lot of Minnesota turkeys -- a border closure could change that

John Zimmerman raises thousands of turkeys on a farm in Northfield, Minn.
Turkeys congregate at a farm in Northfield, Minn., on July 14, 2017.
Maria Alejandra Cardona | MPR News 2017

President Trump last week threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border over the high number of migrants crossing into the country from Mexico. The White House has since softened that threat but says the president is exploring his options with input from the Council of Economic Advisers, NPR reports.

What might those advisers say about the impact of a closure on the state of Minnesota?

Robert Kudrle is a professor of international trade and investment policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School. He said a prolonged closure could become "tremendously expensive" for the state.

Mexico is the state's top international trade partner, Kudrle said. In 2017, Minnesota businesses exported about $2.4 billion in goods to Mexico, including motor vehicle parts, oil seeds, grain and turkeys.

"They eat a lot of our turkeys," Kudrle said.

In turn, the state imported about $2 billion worth of farm equipment and other goods from Mexico. If the border closed, that equipment would sit in warehouses until it reopened or businesses found other options.

"If it sits there for a day, it's some cost. If it sits there for a week, it's more cost and it goes up proportionately," Kudrle said. "After a while, if the border were to really be closed, people would have to start thinking about different ways about doing business."

It's unclear how quickly a border closure would hit the state's economy, but Kudrle said it could take months to a year.

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