Fix USMCA and Finish Trans Pacific Agreements
BY WALTER SCHWEITZER
We currently have a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico called NAFTA.I support the resolution unanimously approved by the National Farmers Union(NFU) board of directors asking Congress to fix USMCA. To gain NFU support for USMCA, Congress must provide needed protections for American family farmers and ranchers.The agreement should include enforcement provisions; rectify language related to prescription drugs; strengthen anti-dumping protections for agricultural goods; and re-establish Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) authority.
Some AG organizations are promoting ratification of the USMCA. If you get a chance, ask how USMCA benefits the family farm. They don’t have a good answer. Some say it allows wheat growers to export wheat to Canada. While it does create a path to deliver wheat to Canada the Canadian Wheat Pool will only accept wheat grown from Canadian varieties. Others say it helps the dairy farmers, but if you ask the dairy farmers they say it allows the milk processor to pit US dairy farmers against Canadian dairy farmers and favors large multinational dairies.
Our efforts should be focused on getting trade agreements with key Asian customers we lost when the US pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Our competitors have been able to export their products to these Asian markets without the excessive tariffs imposed on US products because we signed out of the TPP. We have only renegotiated one agreement and that is with Japan. This agreement is basically the same as TPP, but it doesn’t immediately reduce tariffs for US products. Tariff reductions are phased in allowing our competitors a market advantage for several more years.The trade war with China has cost us markets that we have spent decades developing. China is not only the largest soybean importer, but has become the largest beef importer. USA producers are sitting on the sidelines while our competitors are establishing long-term agreements with China. China is building ports and buying farmland in Mexico, South America and Ukraine to wean itself from US farm products. Family farmers and ranchers are sacrificing our markets so that multinational corporations can build their technology in China without sharing their patents. I have a suggestion, why don’t these companies build their technology in countries that respect their patents and leave our markets alone? The sooner agreements with China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian Countries can be signed the quicker we can start trying to rebuild these markets. I have always said it is easier to keep a customer than to get one back or find a new one. We have our work cut out for us because we will have to fight to get our markets back and work to find new ones.