Trade Groups Rally For USMCA Passage

Jun 21, 2019  | 4 min  | Ep4444

American farmers have struggled to get their 2019 row crops into the ground. Now that millions of acres are growing, the question turns to an uncertain future for the bounty nature will likely provide.

Several major trading deals and markets are in play. The list runs from NAFTA countries, markets vacated by the pullout from TPP and to sales with Japan and China.

Former Secretary of Agriculture, and current U.S. Dairy Export Council CEO Tom Vilsack, led a cavalcade of commodity groups in an Urbandale, Iowa restaurant. They discussed the importance of passing the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the nation’s number two and number three trading partners.

Tom Vilsack, CEO U.S. Dairy Export Council: “So having this agreement passed creates, optimism creates a hopefulness about the future, which is incredibly important for agriculture, and for the food industry.”

Iowa is a world leader in the production of many commodities. Many foreign destinations purchase products not regularly consumed in the States.

Matt Deppe: Iowa Cattlemen’s Association: “Trade is really important though to when you look at the gross value of a finished steer , when that steer is sold that gross value $323 worth of that value is because of international trade, when we get into the USMCA 70 of those $323 are from the USMCA alone. And then secondly, just as important for the beef industry, our number one value market is Japan.”

Drew Mogler, Iowa Pork Producers Association: “Trade is critically important for our industry, about 25 percent of our 25-27 percent of our product gets exported each year, Japan is our number one value market as well. But Mexico is our number one volume market. So about one in four hams in the United States ends up down in Mexico.”

Most of the commodity group representatives cite USMCA as the first priority. They are concerned that if a deal isn’t done soon opportunities could be lost around the globe.

Kevin Studer, Iowa Corn: “My farmers needed break. This spring has been a mess. We all know it we need, we got to get this anxiety off the table. Let's clear the deck on USMCA. Let's get our trade people be able to focus on getting China done. And let's just get these guys some certainty in the market.”

The USMCA needs approval in all three countries involved. So far, only Mexico has ratified the trade pact.

Also this week, the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer faced members of the House Ways and Means committee.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, (D) New Jersey: "I know the White House is eager to finish a new NAFTA. They're trying to drive this thing across the finish line 100 miles per hour."

Rep. Richard Neal, (D) Massachusetts, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee: "Are you supportive of the president's threat to impose those tariffs on imports from Mexico? What's the legal and policy rationale for imposing such tariffs? Do you think that the president's threat undermines or makes more complicated our efforts to pass the new NAFTA?"

Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative: "So that would be yes, yes and no. So the, the, the original do I support? Absolutely I support it. Do I think it makes more difficult to pass USMCA? I hope not. I don't think so. There's no reason in my judgment why it should.” 

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Tredeau met with President Trump late in the week. Both soon face re-election and, for some, the trade issue could be the deciding factor.

President Donald Trump: We work in particular on the USMCA. And we hope to have bipartisan support.”

For Market to Market, I’m Paul Yeager.

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