Jan 29, 2020Signing of USMCA welcomed by ag secretary
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Jan. 29.
“Today is a good day for American agriculture. Throughout this process, there were many detractors who said it couldn’t be done. But this is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. This agreement shows the rest of the world the United States is open for business. USMCA is critical for America’s farmers and ranchers, who will now have even more market access to our neighbors to the north and the south. I am excited to see the economic benefits of this agreement increase the prosperity of all Americans, especially those living in rural America,” said Secretary Perdue.
“USMCA will advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses. This high-standard agreement builds upon our existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.
Canada and Mexico are our first- and second-largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.
All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.
Earlier this year, nearly 1,000 American food and agriculture associations and companies announced their support for USMCA and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture signed a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to ratify USMCA.
In September, all former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan’s Administration announced support for USMCA. In a letter to Congressional leaders, former Secretaries John Block (Reagan), Mike Espy (Clinton), Dan Glickman (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), Ed Shafer (W. Bush), and Tom Vilsack (Obama) underscored the importance of passing USMCA saying, “We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products. USMCA will provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy. We strongly support ratification of USMCA.”
Key Provision: Increasing Dairy Market Access
- America’s dairy farmers will have expanded market opportunities in Canada for a wide variety of dairy products. Canada agreed to eliminate the unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing programs that allowed their farmers to undersell U.S. producers.
Key Provision: Biotechnology
- For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.
Key Provision: Geographical Indications
- The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.
Key Provision: Sanitary/Phytosanitary Measures
- The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.
Key Provision: Poultry and Eggs
- U.S. poultry producers will have expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey, and eggs.
Key Provision: Wheat
- Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling U.S. growers to be more competitive.
Key Provision: Wine and Spirits
- The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through non-discrimination and transparency regarding sale, distribution, labeling, and certification of wine and distilled spirits.
California Farm Bureau Federation statement:
“Today’s action by President Trump to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement promises to secure important markets for California food and agricultural products. California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said the trade agreement assures improved flow of trade with Canada and Mexico.”
“President Trump’s signature finalizes U.S. adoption of the agreement and puts us that much closer to realizing its full benefits,” Johansson said. “Once it’s implemented, the agreement will help farmers, ranchers and thousands of other Californians whose jobs are tied to agricultural exports.”
“Canada ranks second among foreign customers for California farm products; Mexico ranks fifth. Combined farm exports to the two nations totaled more than $4.3 billion in the most recent statistics.”
“Agricultural exports add vitality to rural areas and create urban jobs at ports, marketing firms and other businesses,” Johansson said. “The USMCA will help California farmers and ranchers retain and enhance sales throughout North America.”
The president’s signature means the U.S. and Mexico have ratified the agreement. The Canadian Parliament is expected to vote on the agreement soon.
Photo: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.