For the second time in as many days, Alabama farmers received good news on trade Jan. 16 as the U.S. Senate approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by a vote of 89-10. Passage of the deal, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, comes on the heels of President Donald J. Trump signing the first phase of a China trade agreement Jan. 15.
“These trade deals are steps in the right direction and a welcome sign for farmers who have been dealing with low commodity prices,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “We appreciate the administration fighting for better trade deals for agriculture.”
Trump’s administration said China has pledged to increase its spending on all American goods by $200 billion over the next two years compared to 2017 levels. At least $40 billion of that total will be spent on U.S. farm goods. The China agreement takes effect in 30 days.
Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department Assistant Director Mitt Walker echoed Parnell’s optimism.
“Canada and Mexico now rank as our two largest export markets, accounting for more than $40 billion in value,” he said. “Exports support about 900,000 American jobs in the food, agriculture and related sectors of the economy.”
The USMCA will provide new market access for dairy and poultry products and will result in fair grading standards for U.S. wheat exported to Canada. The deal also addresses agricultural biotechnology to support 21st century innovations, including new technologies such as gene editing.
The USMCA legislation passed the House of Representatives last month by a 385-41 vote. It now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Trump was slated to address farmers during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention Jan. 19.