New trade agreement to help Virginia farmers

New trade agreement to help Virginia farmers
WASHINGTON—On Nov. 30 the revision of a 24-year-old pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, or USMCA, was agreed upon by the three countries.

“This long-awaited update to the North American Free Trade Agreement is great news for Virginia producers, because Canada and Mexico are two of our top five export markets for agricultural goods,” noted Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor. “The USMCA is a step forward, and we are hopeful that Congress will continue the momentum by expediting its approval.”

The legislatures of all three countries will be required to pass the USMCA for it to become effective. NAFTA will remain in force until it’s replaced by the new agreement.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall noted that the USMCA “continues the progress American farmers and ranchers have made since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico increased from $8.9 billion to $39 billion under NAFTA. That boost provided important markets for farmers and ranchers whose productivity has only grown since the agreement was signed.”

Duvall added that the USMCA keeps all those gains and adds improvements for poultry, eggs, dairy products and wine. “In every way, this new agreement is just as good as, if not better than, the one that came before,” he shared.

Virginia dairymen and grain and soybean farmers stand to benefit from the USMCA because it will allow greater market access for those commodities, explained Tony Banks, a VFBF commodity marketing specialist.

“The USMCA builds upon NAFTA’s past successes for agricultural trade by updating ag biotechnology provisions, commodity grading standards and service language,” Banks said. “It places more emphasis on technology, which should help ag commodities move faster and more freely between the three countries.”

Reaching an agreement among the three nations has been a top goal for the Trump administration this year. Farm representatives agree that the USMCA is a step in the right direction but claim farmers are still adversely affected by retaliatory tariffs over steel and aluminum disputes with other trading partners.

“We urge the administration to redouble its efforts to come to an agreement on those outstanding issues so we can regain the markets we had not long ago,” Duvall said.

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114. 

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