USMCA passage widely praised by meat industry

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

USMCA passage widely praised by meat industry

Related tags Us Mexico Canada USMCA Beef Pork Poultry Processing equipment & plant design

The US Senate has voted 89-10 to pass the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), moving the trilateral deal one stage further to completion.

The passing of the deal, that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the three countries, moves it to US President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.

Mexico has already ratified USMCA leaving Canada as the last nation to consider the agreement when its parliament returns on 27 January 2020.

Upon its passage, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement. “We’ve long waited for this day and now USMCA will finally head to the President’s desk,”​ he said. “The passage of USMCA is great news for America’s farmers and ranchers. With Congressional consideration now complete, our farmers and ranchers are eager to see the President sign this legislation and begin reaping the benefits of this critical agreement.

Industry welcome

US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO Dan Halstrom explained the potential benefits of the agreement.

“The US Senate moving quickly to approve USMCA reaffirms the United States' commitment to two key trading partners, both of which are very important destinations for US pork, beef and lamb. USMEF applauds Congressional leaders and the Trump administration, especially the trade experts within USTR and USDA, for their tireless efforts to ratify USMCA, which bolsters our position as a reliable supplier to two leading markets that account for about one-third of all US red meat exports. Shipments to Mexico and Canada in 2019 totaled about 1.25 million metric tons valued at $3.8bn, and the US red meat industry looks forward to many years of further growth.”

North America Meat Institute president and CEO Julie Anna Potts welcomed the progress. "The US meat and poultry industry exports $5.5 billion annually in products to Canada and Mexico. This agreement is critical to meat and poultry processors and the millions of US farmers, ranchers, allied manufacturers and transportation companies in the food supply chain.”

National Chicken Council president Mike Brown said: “The passage of USMCA is great news for America’s chicken producers,” Brown said. “USMCA will maintain or improve market access for chicken exports in our top two valued markets - Mexico and Canada. It will also positively impact both the US agriculture sector and the broader national economy.”

National Pork Producers Council president David Herring said: “Ratification of USMCA has been a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), and we thank members of the Senate who supported this critical trade deal. USMCA provides US pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. It received strong support in both chambers of Congress, and we look forward to seeing President Trump sign it into law.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president Jennifer Houston added: “The ratification of USMCA is a crucial win for all US beef producers and a reassurance that US beef will continue to have unrestricted, duty-free access to Canada and Mexico. NCBA has been a strong supporter of USMCA since day one, and we believe that today’s vote sends a strong message to the rest of the world that the United States believes in free and fair trade.”

National Farmers Union concern

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson applauded the agreement’s passage but urged future improvements to American trade policy:

“For 25 years, National Farmers Union has stood in staunch opposition to the disastrous free trade framework established by NAFTA. By prioritizing the interests of corporations over those of working-class Americans, this framework is largely responsible for our massive trade deficit, the rapid exportation of domestic jobs, the decline of wages, and the deterioration of our national sovereignty.

“Though USMCA is not a perfect replacement, it does make some important changes to its predecessor. We are particularly encouraged by the inclusion of stronger labor standards, more robust enforcement mechanisms, and better environmental protections. On top of that, we are pleased to see the partial elimination of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration procedure, which is the source of many of our aforementioned grievances against NAFTA.

 “That being said, there is still significant room for improvement. This trade deal still doesn’t restore common-sense Country-of-Origin-Labeling, nor does it address import dumping. With that in mind, we urge Congress and the Trump administration to continue working to strengthen trade deals so they better support the success of family farmers and rural communities.

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