House approves USMCA bill
The House of Representatives approved the bill to implement the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, a top priority for almost all agricultural and food groups. The vote was 385 to 41.
In a sign of the bipartisan support for the agreement, Rep. Rosa De Lauro, D-Conn., sent her colleagues a letter explaining why she was supporting the agreement.
DeLauro, a trade skeptic who was appointed to the House Working Group on the NAFTA Renegotiation, said she had worked hard to achieve a number of policies within the agreement.
But she added, “It is vital, however, to remember that in many important ways this agreement falls short.”
“It lacks the robust climate standards that Democrats know our planet needs, the labor and environmental terms could be even stronger, and the agreement should exclude limits on consumer protections for food and product safety.
“It is important to understand that regardless of the president’s rhetoric, this agreement will not bring back U.S. manufacturing jobs.
“Over time, the labor standards and enhanced enforcement terms we forced into the new NAFTA may help raise wages in Mexico, and this may also reduce U.S. corporations’ incentives to outsource more U.S. jobs to Mexico to pay workers less.
“However, even if the new NAFTA reduces incentives for corporations to outsource jobs to Mexico, it cannot counteract the outsourcing incentives in President Trump’s tax bill. If a firm operating in the United States shuts production down and relocates production to Mexico, the firms federal tax rate is cut in half (a firm in the United States would pay a 21% corporate tax rate while offshore income is taxed at a 10.5% rate.)
“USMCA is not a model moving forward, but it establishes important principles we can build from.
“I do not believe the popular national view that wage stagnation in America today including trade agreements, is the inevitable result of globalization and technology. Special interests have shaped government policies that have held down wages and increased inequality. As Nobel winning economist Joe Stiglitz has written, ‘Inequality is not inevitable. It is a choice we make.’
“Major progress has been made on this agreement. I pledge to continue working with my colleagues to deal with the important issues relating to globalization and trade policy that we are facing today.”
National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross thanked members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their bipartisan approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Ross made the following statement.
“Corn farmers have been working toward this vote for nearly a year, sending emails, having meetings and making phone calls to their representatives in support of USMCA. All of agriculture should be incredibly proud to see these efforts pay off with such a strong, bipartisan vote. We wouldn’t be at this stage in the ratification process without the hard work of individual farmers across the country. Ratifying USMCA has been NCGA’s top legislative priority because Mexico and Canada are the U.S. corn industry’s largest, most reliable markets.
“NCGA thanks members of the House for their votes in support, along with President Trump and his administration’s continued efforts to come to a bipartisan consensus. It’s now up to members of the U.S. Senate to quickly pass USMCA in the new year.”
U.S wheat growers are very pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the USMCA. This past year, the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates have forcefully spoken out on their behalf about the need for the USMCA.
“Agriculture desperately needed a win for economic recovery, and passing the USMCA was that win,” said NAWG president and Lavon, Texas, farmer Ben Scholz. “NAWG applauds those members of Congress for their support and hard work to advance this critical trade deal one step closer to the finish line. We encourage the Senate to follow its lead and pass this deal early in the new year.”
“Mexico’s flour millers import more U.S. wheat than any other country and they have been very anxious about the outcome of this trade agreement,” said USW Chairman and Paulding, Ohio, farmer Doug Goyings. “At the end of a conference with those millers last June, we agreed to work together to get USMCA implemented. Our colleagues at NAWG have enthusiastically joined that effort on Capitol Hill and we thank them for their support.”
USMCA retains tariff-free access to imported U.S. wheat for those long-time flour milling customers in Mexico, a crucial step toward rebuilding trust in the U.S. as a reliable supplier in this important, neighboring market. In addition, the USMCA makes important progress towards more open commerce for U.S. wheat farmers near the Canadian border by allowing U.S. varieties registered in Canada to receive reciprocal grading treatment.
Other measures that benefit the wheat industry include the Agreement’s language around agricultural biotechnology which supports 21st Century innovations in agriculture and new language to strengthen disciplines for science-based SPS measures. ❖