USTR, House Democrats agree on USMCA deal

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an agreement this week on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), aka NAFTA 2.0.

“We are pleased to see a bipartisan agreement on USMCA, which is a vital step toward restoring stability to our markets,” says MSGA President Jamie Beyer, who visited the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. in July 2019. “Trade with Canada and Mexico is incredibly important to soybean producers. Now, we look forward to the Senate and the Trump administration finish the job by ratifying this trade agreement.”

Minnesota Democrats and Republicans alike applauded the news of an agreement.

“I have been pushing for months to get this deal to the finish line, and this announcement is great news for farmers, businesses and workers, in western Minnesota and nationwide,” says Rep. Collin Peterson, chair of the House Ag Committee. “This agreement makes updates to how the three countries will address biotechnology, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues. The USMCA also preserves the market our farmers are currently accessing while making modest gains for our dairy, poultry, and wheat growers in the Canadian market. Rural America has faced many hurdles and challenges with these trade wars, and passing the USMCA is a step in the right direction.”

Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who also serves on the House Ag Committee and represents southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District, was also vocal in urging Congress to support USMCA. During campaign events throughout 2019, the congressman would pose with constituents holding a sign that read “#USMCAnow!”

MSGA and ASA directors met with Congressman Jim Hagedorn last July in their united support of USMCA.

“As the first member of the Minnesota delegation to support USMCA, I am thrilled that the White House, Republican leadership and Speaker Pelosi were able to reach an agreement to finally deliver this much-needed and well-deserved win to our workers, businesses, farmers and families,” Hagedorn said in a statement. “USMCA will open new markets, expand economic opportunity and create new high-wage jobs, build momentum for trade deals with China and other nations, and help protect and promote our rural way of life in southern Minnesota.”

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), farmers and agricultural businesses were able to grow their exports by 450 percent, accounting for $40 billion in ag exports in 2018. Additionally, agricultural businesses were able to use increased revenue from growth to create jobs for 43 million Americans. In Minnesota alone, NAFTA creates more than 10,000 jobs.

Since NAFTA was enacted, Mexico and Canada have become the second largest market for U.S. soybeans and soy products, equating to $2 billion annually. Over the past 25 years, U.S. exports to Mexico quadrupled and exports to Canada doubled. As a result, Mexico and Canada now account for nearly 30 percent of all U.S. ag exports.

“Farmers need certainty, and this agreement eases our fear that the president may have pulled out of NAFTA before coming to an agreement on a USMCA,” says MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek. “We are happy to see both parties come together to help rural America, and look forward to seeing both the House and Senate do their parts to see this agreement to completion.”

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