by Jeff Helms
MONTGOMERY, Ala., July 1 — The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) takes effect today, bringing good news to Alabama farmers hit hard by low commodity prices and market disruption in the wake of COVID-19.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell said the USMCA helps U.S. farmers compete in the global marketplace by replacing the flawed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“This is a really big deal for our farmers and our country,” Parnell said. “We thank the Trump administration for negotiating better trade agreements for agriculture. Mexico and Canada are not only our neighbors, they are also among our biggest trading partners. The USMCA strengthens those relationships.”
The trade agreement is expected to increase U.S. agricultural exports by $2 billion a year and grow the U.S. overall gross domestic product by $65 billion.
Federation National Affairs Director Mitt Walker said the USMCA includes provisions which will directly benefit Alabama’s largest agriculture commodity, poultry, while replacing obsolete language restricting exports of U.S. crops.
“Today marks the culmination of a promise made by President Trump to secure better trade deals for our farmers. The USMCA provides new market access for poultry and dairy products and levels the playing field for U.S. wheat farmers. In addition, biotechnology was in its infancy when NAFTA was signed. The USMCA modernizes the regulation of this important technology to ensure American farmers continue to have the best tools available to feed and clothe the world.”Federation National Affairs Director Mitt Walker
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said timing of the USMCA is crucial. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates COVID-19 will contribute to a $50 billion decline in commodity value through 2021.
“The launch of the USMCA brings optimism to the country’s farmers and ranchers at a time they need it the most,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to build on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and we’re eager to see the results on America’s farms. It’s important that our neighbors uphold their end of the deal, so the agreement provides a stabilizing force amid the unpredictability of a pandemic in all three countries.”
For more information on the historic USMCA, visit ustr.gov/usmca.