Congress resumed work this week, and it should move promptly to pass the new U.S. trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. The Trump administration and congressional Democrats need to wind up their negotiations now so the process can move forward.
Lawmakers adjourn in three weeks, and if resolution isn’t reached in the negotiations, final consideration will be delayed until sometime next year.
A wide range of U.S. agricultural organizations participated Thursday in a rally in Washington, D.C., to make clear that the nation’s ag sector can’t wait for such delay.
Participants in the rally included the American Farm Bureau Federation; National Corn Growers Association; American Soybean Association; National Association of Wheat Growers; Farmers for Free Trade; and National Milk Producers Federation.
Tom Vilsack, a former U.S. secretary of agriculture and Iowa governor, attended the event.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, has broad backing.
This summer, more than 600 U.S. industry associations, agriculture producer organizations and chambers of commerce sent a joint letter to members of Congress, urging them to pass the agreement.
“U.S. manufacturers export more made-in-America manufactured goods to our North American neighbors than they do to the next 11 largest export markets combined,” the letter noted, “and the two countries account for nearly one-third of U.S. agricultural exports.”
Signatories to the letter included the Nebraska Retail Federation; the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry; the chambers of commerce for the Omaha area, Lincoln, Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff; and 11 Iowa economic development organizations.
The proposed trade agreement would maintain the existing free trade benefits under NAFTA and make various improvements. It would address e-commerce for the first time, safeguard intellectual property and enable customs efficiencies.
The three countries have agreed on the highest-quality sanitary assurance for agricultural exports.
Passing the agreement would provide a measure of much-needed stability in the agricultural sector, which has been buffeted by trade tensions and weak prices. The longer the delay in approval, the worse for ag producers in terms of uncertainty.
Mexico and Canada “are the U.S. corn industry’s largest, most reliable market,” the National Corn Growers Association notes.
Mexico is the No. 1 importer of Nebraska corn and wheat, and it’s No. 2 for Nebraska’s exports of soybeans and soybean products, dry edible beans, sorghum and distillers grains.
Now is the time for the administration and lawmakers to wind up their negotiations and get this agreement across the finish line, for the sake of U.S. ag producers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers.