Container ship

On December 19, 2019 the United States House of Representatives passed the historic passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). The ratification of the agreement passed on a vote of 385-41. 

The USMCA has been pending before the house for some time but was only picked up for passage after another historic impeachment vote. USMCA is reported by the United States Department of Agriculture to advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses. This high-standard agreement builds upon our existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.

Here is what South San Joaquin Valley Leaders had to share about the passage of the USMCA:

Congressman Devin Nunes—“The House of Representatives voted to pass the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). I have long believed that trade is vital to the Central Valley’s economic health. With its passage, USMCA will generate over $68 billion in economic activity and produce 176,000 new jobs for American workers. Moreover, agricultural products that had zero tariffs under NAFTA will continue to be tariff free, while American dairy farmers will now have access to previously unopened Canadian markets. Modernized for the 21st century, USMCA will deliver tremendous economic benefits to the
Central Valley.”

Congressman Kevin McCarthy— “The passage of USMCA is a victory for American workers, our economy, and intellectual property reforms, all of which will help ensure that America remains a world leader in the 21st century.”

“From fairer measures for agricultural producers to provisions that will help the United States remain a global force in cutting-edge technology, USMCA is expected to have positive effects nationwide, and especially California. In 2018 alone, our state exported over $48 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico — nearly 20 percent of all U.S. exports. With over a million jobs in our state supported by trade with Canada and Mexico, Californians are on track to benefit from this upgraded agreement. Not to mention, USMCA would help California agricultural product exporters by repealing Canada’s unfair milk pricing systems, stopping the discrimination of American wine, and expanding access for U.S. dairy products and poultry in Canada and Mexico. The modernization of sanitary and phytosanitary measures will also help to ensure that American agricultural exports are not blocked due to spurious food safety or animal and plant health concerns.”

Congressman TJ Cox—“USMCA is a win for America. I worked hard to ensure we wound up with a deal that strengthened vital markets for our farmers and ranchers and protected American jobs and the environment.”

Chairman of the Kern County Board of Supervisor’s David Couch—”The passage of USMCA is a positive for our Country, Mexico and Canada. Increased trade creates jobs which increases the economic output of Kern County and benefits our residents. Its especially good for farming and agriculture which is a $7 Billion dollar a year industry for Kern County. I thank our leaders that ensured the passage of this historic trade deal.”

Assemblyman Rudy Salas—“I am pleased to see that the House passed the USMCA with bipartisan support. This bill will strengthen the Valley’s economy by opening up new markets, protecting workers and cutting red tape for small businesses. This trade deal will improve economic conditions for working families in the Central Valley and throughout the State. I look forward to seeing the USMCA signed into law early next year.

Assemblyman Vince Fong—“The USMCA opens up markets of two of our largest trading partners in the world to our Central Valley farmers and ranchers. International trade is critical to the economic success of our region, and this trade agreement will help create more jobs and strengthen our economy.”

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove—”This 21st century trade agreement is a huge win for our farmers, farm workers, and agribusiness. President Trump’s critical work on this measure has shown his commitment to supporting the food industry. I am glad congressional members have taken a moment to put our farmers above politics and approved the USMCA.”*

Key Provisions That Impact Agriculture:

Increasing Dairy Market Access

• America’s dairy farmers will have expanded market opportunities in Canada for a wide variety of dairy products. Canada agreed to eliminate the unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing programs that allowed their farmers to undersell U.S. producers.

Biotechnology

• For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.

Geographical Indications

• The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.

Sanitary/Phytosanitary Measures

• The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.

Poultry and Eggs

• U.S. poultry producers will have expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey, and eggs.

Wheat

• Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling U.S. growers to be more competitive.

Wine and Spirits

• The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through non-discrimination and transparency regarding sale, distribution, labeling, and certification of wine and
distilled spirits.

*Shannon Grove quote added to online version of this article on January 6, 2020.