I-BAND disappointed in USMCA passage without industry safeguards
Independent Beef Association of North Dakota President Dwight Keller has released the following statement about passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Jan. 16 by the U.S. Senate following passage by the U.S. House of Rep-resentatives last week. The new trade agreement will replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which established a trilateral trade block between the three nations. I-BAND opposed passage of USMCA if it failed to include certain safeguards for the U.S. cattle industry surrounding rules of origin and currency valuations.
“I-BAND is very concerned about the effect this new trade agreement will have on U.S. cattle producers,” explained Keller. “It is important to recognize that the total U.S. trade deficit of cattle and cattle equivalency (live cattle and boxed beef) has soared to more than 2.8 million cattle. This translates to 8.5% of annual U.S. slaughter, representing a substantial negative impact on domestic prices. In addition, there are no provisions precluding use of the U.S. label on imported beef or beef derived from imported cattle, nor was mandatory country of origin labeling addressed, which will likely result in deceptive consumer labeling in retail cases.”
“Through devaluation of the peso and the Canadian dollar U.S. ranchers are being forced into direct competition with artificially cheap, price-depressing imports into U.S. markets. Without country of origin labeling U.S. ranchers will not be able to differentiate their domestically produced beef from imported beef and beef products for consumers. It is disheartening that trade negotiators, the administration and Congress failed to recognize and address the position this places U.S. producers in.”
“Ranchers have been repeatedly promised that cattle and beef would be included for Special Rules for Perishable and Cyclical Ag Products in trade agreements but this does not appear to be the case with USMCA. As established previously by Congress, the principal negotiating objective of the U.S. with respect to agriculture is to secure competitive opportunities for U.S. exports of agricultural commodities in foreign markets by eliminating practices that adversely affect trade in perishable or cyclical products. Unfortunately, these congressional objectives were ignored. It is difficult to see any benefits for U.S. ranchers in this new trade deal.”