Does NAFTA by another name smell as sweet?


New name, who dis? The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been restructured to United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Late Sunday evening, officials finalized the new agreement, but what does this mean for farmers?

The biggest group affected by the new agreement will be dairy farmers, the auto sector, and labor unions. For dairy farmers, this is a much-needed break. They have access to the Canadian dairy market. In the new agreement, Class 7 (a Canadian regulation) will be less restrictive and allow U.S. farmers to once again be able to sell milk powder, milk protein, and infant formula.

As farmers, we need to know there is a dependability in our system. We know we have the drive, determination, and technology to keep up with the increasing population demand, but we need to know that trade in the future will continue to be favorable. In addition, we need options for new opportunities for trade to continue to grow.

The new agreement has a favorable reaction so far. Casey Guernsey, a farmer and Americans For Farmers & Families representative, said, “Whether you breed cattle in Missouri like my family, raise hogs in North Carolina, grow corn in Iowa or simply shop at a local grocery store in New York, this announcement means that we will soon have the certainty we need to continue feeding our own and families around the world.”

Sonny Perdue said about the agreement, “The great news of a new USMCA deal is important for our economy as a whole, including the agricultural sector, which counts Canada and Mexico in our top three trading partners. … We have secured greater access to these vital markets and will maintain and improve the highly productive integrated agricultural relationship we have as nations. Notably, as one of the President’s top goals, this deal eliminates Canada’s unfair ‘Class 7’ milk pricing scheme, cracks open additional access to U.S. dairy into Canada, and imposes new disciplines on Canada’s supply management system. The agreement also preserves and expands critical access for U.S. poultry and egg producers and addresses Canada’s discriminatory wheat grading process to help U.S. wheat growers along the border become more competitive.”

Even though the news came out Sept. 30, farmers will not see the benefits immediately. The new agreement will hopefully go into effect around January 1, 2020. Congress must approve the plan first, which could take months.

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