The following editorial was published by the Fort Dodge Messenger on Aug. 27:
The push to get congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiated in 2018 by the Trump administration is at a crucial stage. It’s imperative that lawmakers promptly back USMCA.
This pact has some similarities to the North American Free Trade Agreement it succeeds, but is a substantial improvement for American agriculture. Here are some of the key enhancements:
• It allows 250 percent more U.S. dairy products to be exported to Canada.
• It increases the amount of eggs that can be sold to Canada.
• It enables more chicken to be sold duty-free.
• Some restrictions on the export of wheat are eliminated.
• Cooperation between the three nations on agricultural biotechnology is strengthened.
Canada and Mexico are immensely important markets for U.S. agricultural products. Here, according to information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the market value of some of the farm products exported to Canada and Mexico in 2018:
• Corn: $3.4 billion.
• Soybeans: $2.1 billion.
• Pork and pork products: $2.1 billion.
• Dairy products: $2 billion.
• Beef and beef products: $1.8 billion.
• Poultry and eggs: $1.6 billion.
Obviously, these two neighbor countries are sales venues enormously significant for Iowa’s farmers and agricultural industries.
With that in mind U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who is now a U.S. undersecretary of agriculture, are meeting this week with key Iowa agriculture leaders to build support for the USMCA.
“Passing USMCA means new and improved market access for American farmers in Canada and Mexico,” the two Republicans said in a statement announcing the gathering. “With Canada and Mexico being our two largest trading partners, the benefits for Iowa’s agriculture are significant ... The time to pass USMCA is now.”
Support for USMCA is bipartisan. Grassley and Tom Vilsack, who was a two-term Democratic governor of Iowa and U.S. secretary of agriculture during the Obama administration, recently met in Des Moines to discuss USMCA’s importance.
“Modernizing and improving our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico is a bipartisan no-brainer,” Grassley said in a statement announcing that event. “Here in Iowa, the $10 billion worth of agricultural products we export each year to our neighbors to the north and south support more than 86,000 jobs. Americans are depending on Congress to deliver much-needed certainty for the Midwest and the entire U.S. farm economy.”