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Vilsack Grassley AE Dairy.jpg Sen. Grassley's office
USDEC CEO and president Tom Vilsack joins Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley at AE Dairy in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 26, 2019.

Grassley, Vilsack urge bipartisan USMCA support

Senate Finance Committee chairman optimistic Congress will advance USMCA this fall.

Bipartisan calls for action to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) continue, as shown Monday by Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a Democrat and former Iowa governor, when they toured the Anderson Erickson Dairy, a Des Moines, Iowa, dairy plant that stands to benefit from USMCA.

Grassley and Vilsack spoke about the importance to U.S. agriculture of passing USMCA, the trade deal’s bipartisan appeal and the need for Congress to act.

“When everybody thinks everything in Washington [D.C.] is partisan and there’s the opportunity to stress bipartisanship – and with somebody of Gov. Vilsack’s background, particularly as secretary of agriculture for eight years in the previous Administration – it brings credibility to the chance that this is something that we can get done, it’s something that must get done and we will get it done,” Grassley said. “Gov. Vilsack and I are here today because this is very important to Iowa, as agriculture is very important to Iowa -- but it’s not just agriculture. There’s going to be tens of thousands of jobs created as a result of this agreement.”

As president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Vilsack detailed how the trade pact will boost trade by putting in place essential reforms that will help level the playing field for America's hard-working farmers and food manufacturers.

"Securing markets for made-in-America agricultural products means increased economic opportunities for our dairy farmers, manufacturers and rural communities here at home," Vilsack said. "USMCA makes vital improvements to [the North American Free Trade Agreement], and its passage is necessary to modernize trade in North America. According to a recent International Trade Commission report, USMCA could mean up to $314 million in additional dairy sales."

During a press conference following the tour, both Grassley and Vilsack stressed the importance of strengthening the critical trade relationship the U.S. shares with Mexico while opening up new opportunities for U.S. dairy in Canada through the passage of USMCA.
Grassley expressed optimism that Congress will pass USMCA this fall. “I think we will get this done. It needs to be done this year,” Grassley said, adding that he thinks there’s no doubt that Congress will get it done.

As the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Grassley will help guide the deal's passage in the Senate. He acknowledged the challenge speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.) faces in the House in educating new members about the trade pact as well as allaying their concerns regarding enforcement, labor and environmental issues. He added that Pelosi has to bring those members up to date on USMCA from a political standpoint as well as policy.

He said he doesn’t expect an overwhelming vote in the House but does anticipate a good margin, which should allow the agreement to pass in the Senate in short order once the House advances the bill.

TAGS: Policy
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