Food groups urge passage of USMCA

Ag groups seek trade deal approval, citing positive benefits to agriculture and overall U.S. economy.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

May 6, 2019

3 Min Read
Canada, United States and Mexico flags
USMCA CELEBRATES ONE YEAR: Already calls for enforcement on Mexico's GMO corn policy and Canada's dairy implementation. ronniechua/Getty Images

Agricultural groups continue to rally for congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

A group of 67 food and agriculture associations and companies sent a letter Monday to congressional leadership and all 535 congressional offices strongly urging lawmakers to vote to ratify USMCA. Groups and companies from across the food and agriculture spectrum underscored that the new agreement includes important improvements that will enable food and agriculture to trade more fairly and to expand exports of American agricultural products to Canada and Mexico.

Furthermore, the letter stated, a recent analysis of USMCA by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found the deal to be a boon for the U.S. economy, raising U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $68.2 billion and pumping an additional $2.2 billion, or 1.1%, into the U.S. economy through increases in agricultural and food exports.

“The food and agriculture industry welcomed the opportunity to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” the letter said. “Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $39 billion in 2017.”

The letter goes on to detail findings from the ITC report, "The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy & Specific Industry Sectors," which determined that USMCA "would likely have a positive impact on all broad industry sectors within the U.S. economy" and “a positive impact on the U.S. agriculture sector.”

Related:INSIDE WASHINGTON: Where things stand on USMCA approval

The letter added, “The ITC report confirmed our belief that the USMCA will further increase the benefit to American farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses by improving market access and customs procedures, establishing modern, science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards, enhancing standards for biotechnology and strengthening safeguards for commonly used food names.”

Mexico's legislature passed labor reform at the end of April. Under the new statute, Mexican workers will have the right to join independent labor unions and see quicker resolution of labor disputes. Democrats have insisted on Mexico’s labor reform efforts, and the new laws are essential to any path forward for U.S. congressional consideration of USMCA.

While achieving these benchmarks positively affects the outlook for USMCA, major roadblocks remain, the National Sorghum Producers noted in its weekly newsletter issued May 2. U.S. lawmakers continue to call for removal of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico. Moreover, Democrats have raised concerns surrounding the lack of acceptable enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Mexico complies with labor and environmental commitments.

Trade with Canada and Mexico supports more than 12 million American jobs in every state in the country. Canada and Mexico buy American grains, dairy products, meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. Nearly one-third of U.S. agricultural exports valued at approximately $40 billion go to the North American neighbors, supporting more than 300,000 American jobs.

American farmers and ranchers and food companies have praised USMCA for its outstanding market access and modern, science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards, saying they are the strongest achieved in any trade agreement. The letter illustrates that there is strong support for ratification of USMCA from U.S. food and agriculture associations and companies, the groups said in a joint statement.

Among those signing the list include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Assn., National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Land O'Lakes, Elanco Animal Health and more. View the full letter and list here.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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