Today, Brian Kuehl, Executive Director of Farmers for Free Trade, released the following statement on the signing of the United State-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Farmers for Free Trade is a bipartisan campaign co-chaired by former Senators Max Baucus and Richard Lugar that amplifies the voices of American farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses that support free trade.
“Signing USMCA is a significant win for American farmers, but it’s a win that comes with a big caveat. While USMCA offers exciting opportunities for market access into America’s largest and closest ag export markets, any gains will continue to be offset by the losses farmers are experiencing from retaliatory tariffs as long as they are in place.
“For example, through September of this year, the U.S. exports Canada and Mexico have targeted for retaliation have faced over $1.1 billion in new tariffs, which have caused a 21 percent drop in exports. Many of those products are American ag exports like beef, pork and apples. We hear from farmers and ranchers from Wisconsin, to Texas, to Washington state that these tariffs are blunting any momentum that USMCA might bring.
“Farmers for Free Trade is excited about the prospect of turning our grassroots organization’s effort to supporting USMCA. We would like to spend next year leading the charge to ensure members of Congress get behind this agreement. We believe that it is in the best interest of farmers and rural communities. But like many throughout the ag community, we also believe that negotiating an end to the tariffs on Canada and Mexico is just as important for the bottom lines of farmers and their families. When it comes to a decision between the original NAFTA or USMCA along with tariffs on ag exports to Canada and Mexico, our farmers will choose the original NAFTA every time.
“Thirty years ago this week, in a radio address warning against the dangers of protectionism, President Ronald Reagan offered a warning that is as relevant today as USMCA is signed as it was then. As he headed to discussions that would further our trading relationship with Canada, he said ‘our peaceful trading partners are not our enemies; they are our allies…The expansion of the international economy is not a foreign invasion; it is an American triumph, one we worked hard to achieve, and something central to our vision of a peaceful and prosperous world of freedom.’”