USMCA Clears Senate In “Landslide” Vote, Heads To Trump For Signature

USMCA is now bound for President Trump, after what’s being called a landslide victory in the Senate Thursday.  The 78-21 bipartisan vote is being called a win for America’s farmers and ranchers and the president, a day after he signed the Phase One trade agreement with China.  But, the year-long wait for House passage while Democrats requested changes, angered farmers and Ag lawmakers.  But Oregon’s Ron Wyden defended the delay.

 

“When the Trump Administration unveiled their original version of this proposal, it was stunning to see how week it was, in terms of trade enforcement,” Wyden said.  “When you write a proposal with weak trade enforcement, particularly on labor and environmental issues, you sell out American workers.”

 

The U.S. already sells $500 billion in goods and services to Mexico and Canada every year, including a quarter of all U.S. food and Ag products.  USMCA would add some $2.2 billion in new U.S. farm sales and $70 billion and 176,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy.

 

Here is the reaction to Thursday’s vote across the Northwest and Ag industry:

 

​“Thursday’s overwhelming passage by the U.S. Senate of the USMCA is great news for the farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers throughout our state that rely on trade for their livelihoods,” said Lauri Otto Punke, President of the Washington Council on International Trade.  “International trade has long been the cornerstone of Washington state’s economy, and the new trade pact strengthens key parts of the previous trade agreement (NAFTA) by enabling even more opportunities to build on our robust trading relationships with Canada and  Mexico.

 

“This trade agreement comes at a critical time for farmers and ranchers, increasing optimism that we’ll turn the corner in 2020,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “USMCA is an important step toward restoring the competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers, strengthening our trade relationships in North America and setting an example for agreements with other important trading partners.”

“We commend President Trump, the House and the Senate for working together in a bipartisan manner to enhance these important trade relationships and help jumpstart our ag economy,” Duvall added. “Their leadership shows a dedication to protecting the livelihood of millions of Americans on the farm and throughout the food system.”

 

“This week’s accomplishments on trade offer an encouraging start to 2020 for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Farm Credit Council CEO Todd Van Hoose.  “The Senate passing USMCA today and President Trump signing the first phase of a trade deal with China will begin to restore and improve trade with our most significant and strategic partners. We thank President Trump for his leadership and commitment to American agriculture, and we thank Congress for pushing USMCA across the finish line.”

 

“Today is a historic moment for food and agriculture producers across the country,” said National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn.  “The USMCA provides a 21st century rulebook for trade with our North American partners – including critical new provisions on market access, biotechnology, and enforcement. From wheat to wine to dairy, U.S. farmers and ranchers are expected to gain $2 billion in exports from this agreement.“

 

“NASDA thanks the Senate for prioritizing agriculture in their passage of the USMCA. State departments of agriculture are eager to support implementation and will work with federal partners to ensure the benefits of the agreement are fully realized.”

 

“Trade deals can put the price of wheat back on track for many growers and create new opportunities for many farmers,” said National Association of Wheat Growers President and Lavon, TX., farmer Ben Scholz. “NAWG applauds the U.S. Senate for moving quickly on passing USMCA out of the Chamber.”

 

“U.S. apple growers across the nation today are applauding the Senate for getting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) over the finish line with overwhelming bipartisan support,” said Jim Bair, President & CEO U.S. Apple Association.  “Senate passage of the USMCA is significant for the U.S. Apple Association and its members as Mexico and Canada represent our top two export markets, totaling nearly a half-billion dollars in annual sales.”

 

“Throughout USMCA negotiations during the past year, USApple members have rolled up their sleeves and carried out unprecedented advocacy efforts to help secure ratification of the agreement. The USMCA, like its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is good for apples. Under NAFTA, apple exports to Mexico quadrupled and those to Canada doubled. Maintaining the apple industry’s important trading partnerships with Mexico and Canada under the USMCA has been a top priority for the apple industry. We now look forward to President Trump signing the agreement into law.”

 

“For 25 years, National Farmers Union has stood in staunch opposition to the disastrous free trade framework established by NAFTA,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.  “By prioritizing the interests of corporations over those of working-class Americans, this framework is largely responsible for our massive trade deficit, the rapid exportation of domestic jobs, the decline of wages, and the deterioration of our national sovereignty.

 

“Though USMCA is not a perfect replacement, it does make some important changes to its predecessor. We are particularly encouraged by the inclusion of stronger labor standards, more robust enforcement mechanisms, and better environmental protections. On top of that, we are pleased to see the partial elimination of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration procedure, which is the source of many of our aforementioned grievances against NAFTA.

 

“That being said, there is still significant room for improvement. This trade deal still doesn’t restore commonsense Country-of-Origin-Labeling, nor does it address import dumping. With that in mind, we urge Congress and the Trump administration to continue working to strengthen trade deals so they better support the success of family farmers and rural communities.”

 

“Today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan show of support for North American trade will help restore certainty and predictability in our farmers’ most important markets,” said Angela Hofmann, Co-Executive Director of Farmers for Free Trade.  “USMCA also provides important ag victories including on market access for poultry and dairy, provisions that require science-based decision making on trade, and advances in supporting 21st century agricultural innovations.”

 

 

 

 

If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail gvaagen@cherrycreekradio.com

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