Grassley formally signs USMCA before sending to President

Senators offer praise for boost to agriculture sector under revised North American trade agreement.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

January 22, 2020

2 Min Read
2020-01-22 USMCA Signing Event.jpg
Sen. Chuck Grassley's office

Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), as president pro tempore of the Senate, led a bill enrollment ceremony Wednesday to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Implementation Act. Grassley’s signing of the legislation is the final step before it goes to President Donald Trump for his signature to become law.

Several Republican senators joined Grassley and offered brief remarks regarding the benefits of USMCA and the overall momentum created on the trade front for U.S. agriculture. Grassley noted that the bill itself will offer access for additional U.S. agricultural products to Canada. The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support in the Senate last week by a vote of 89-10, following a 385-41 vote in the House in December.

“After three years, we’ve seen some success from [Trump's] trade policies, and USMCA is the best example of this right now,” Grassley said.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), who served as a U.S. Trade Representative ambassador during the George W. Bush Administration, said the deal is great for farmers. “We have a lot of people who are looking for that light at the end of the tunnel, because it’s been tough with the tariffs and the weather and low prices even going into the China tariff issue,” Portman said. “People are enthused about this.”

Related:Ag groups hail USMCA passage by Senate

Sen. John Hoeven (R., N.D.) noted the benefits for wheat producers under the deal in that Canada is no longer allowed to automatically classify U.S. wheat as feed grade and, in turn, reduce prices offered to U.S. wheat producers.

“The real solution are markets, and that’s what these agreements are all about,” Hoeven said regarding USMCA, a phase one agreement with China, a deal with Japan and maybe the European Union around the corner, in addition to a deal that already will triple the amount of U.S. beef shipped to the EU.

Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) said he was “delighted” by the bill’s passage and noted that the farm bill received 84 votes in the Senate, while USMCA achieved 89. He added, “This shows we can get something done in a very divided Congress.”

Sen. Deb Fischer (R., Neb.) called USMCA a “remarkable achievement” that is especially important to her state, as agriculture is the economic engine, with one in four jobs in Nebraska directly related to production agriculture.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) added that Canada and Mexico are the top trade partners for her state. "If you add up the next 27 countries that Iowa does trade with -- add them all together -- they still don't equal the trade that Iowa does with Mexico and Canada," she said.

Related:House advances USMCA in overwhelming vote

Grassley was also joined at the signing event by Sens. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) and Roy Blunt (R., Mo.).

Mexico's Senate already approved the deal, so with Trump’s signature, Canada becomes the only country that hasn’t ratified the pact yet. Canada’s legislative body is expected to consider USMCA at the end of January.

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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