Today, President Donald Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the G20 summit in Argentina. Many agricultural commodity groups have shown their support, but some are afraid it isn’t enough and more steps need to be taken. Many in the dairy industry are looking for the tariffs on steel and aluminum to be lifted in order to revive exports.
International Dairy Foods Association president and CEO, Michael Dykes, said, “Although we’re pleased that the three countries have taken the next step in moving the USMCA forward, the agreement is a hollow victory unless the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are lifted. Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent on American cheeses continue to have a negative impact on dairy exports, and U.S. dairy’s access to the Mexican market remains at serious risk. We’re increasingly concerned that the benefits won’t be realized as long as the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports remain in place.
“Once those tariffs are lifted, we will welcome the progress on USMCA, because it achieved three important priorities for the U.S. dairy industry. First and foremost, we preserved the duty-free market access to Mexico, our number one market for U.S. dairy exports accounting for 25 percent of our total dairy exports. We are also pleased to see some progress on protecting our market access for certain cheese names with additional geographical indications provisions. Second, we eliminated the Canadian Class 7 pricing program. Third, we obtained increased market access to the Canadian market.”
“A signed USMCA is a positive step forward for the U.S. dairy industry across the board. Free trade agreements like the USMCA that open markets and lower trade barriers are crucial to continuing the trend of growing U.S. dairy exports. Maintaining and expanding access to international markets is essential for the future success of the U.S. dairy industry.”
American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall said, “Today’s signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement 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. USMCA keeps all those gains and adds improvements in poultry, eggs, dairy and wine. In every way, this new agreement is just as good, if not better than, the one that came before. We thank the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for all the hard work that went into this accord.
“As good as all this news is, farmers and ranchers still face retaliatory tariffs over steel and aluminum disputes with our North American neighbors and 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.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester praised the signing. “With the signing of the USMCA, U.S. beef producers are one step closer to knowing that unrestricted, science-based trade will continue in North America. The agreement brings the trading relationship with our neighbors into the 21st century – and clearly rejects the failed beef and cattle trade policies of the past. Open markets have helped U.S. producers flourish and created billion dollar markets for U.S. beef. We look forward to working with Congress to get USMCA passed into law as quickly as possible.”
National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp applauded the important step taken by U.S., Mexican, and Canadian officials today in signing the USMCA. “U.S. corn farmers are proud of the strong trading relationships NAFTA has enabled us to build with our North American trading partners, exporting more than $3 billion of corn and corn products to Mexico and Canada last year. Today’s signing is an important step toward cementing a modernized relationship with these important partners. NCGA commends leaders from all three nations and looks forward to engaging on next steps as the USMCA moves to Congress for consideration.”