U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement on March 13, after the Canadian Parliament approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“USMCA is a great victory for America’s agriculture industry, and I am pleased to see Canada’s Parliament approved the deal today. USMCA locks in and expands access to our neighbors to the North and South,” Perdue stated. “I thank President Trump for negotiating this deal and for always supporting America’s farmers and ranchers. We will continue to work with both Canada and Mexico in implementing this agreement.”
USMCA was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on January 29, 2020, after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. All three countries are working together closely on implementation in advance of the agreement’s entry into force.
Canada and Mexico are the United States’ first and second-largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.
Key Provision: 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.
Key Provision: 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.
Key Provision: 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.
Key Provision: 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.
Key Provision: Poultry and Eggs
- U.S. poultry producers will have expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey, and eggs.
Key Provision: Wheat
- Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling U.S. growers to be more competitive.
Key Provision: Wine and Spirits
- The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through non-discrimination and transparency regarding the sale, distribution, labeling, and certification of wine and distilled spirits.
The Department of Agriculture Tuesday said there’s progress in the implementation of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says China has taken several additional actions to reach its agriculture-related commitments.
The actions include the signing of a protocol that allows the importation of fresh California nectarines, and the lifting of a ban on imports of U.S. beef and beef products from animals over 30 months of age. Additionally, China has updated its lists of facilities approved for exporting dairy, infant formula, seafood, and fish oil and fish meal.
Also, China’s new tariff exclusion process went into effect on March 2 and importers can now apply for exclusions from retaliatory tariffs. Perdue says USDA will continue to closely monitor China’s implementation of the agreement that was signed February 14, 2020. Perdue adds, “These implementation measures are promising steps showing that China is taking steps to fulfill their purchase commitments.”
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue testified before the House Ag Committee and trade aid was a big topic of discussion. Michael Conaway, Ranking Member from Texas, called for another round of Market Facilitation Program payments this year.
“The first and second MFP Programs were as justified as they were critical to our farmers and ranchers,” Conaway says. “I strongly believe that unless something gives here soon, an announcement on MFP part three will be vital to the survival of our producers.”
Conaway added that folks who are critical about the aid payments should talk to the secretary on how to go about improving the Market Facilitation Program. House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson of Minnesota fears that Donald Trump’s recent tweet signaling the possibility of more aid means the trade agreements aren’t going to pay off soon.
Peterson says, “If it weren’t for the payments to farmers through the MFP, farm income would have been in the tank,” he says. “I hope the markets return to normal. However, the president’s comments don’t give me confidence that we’ll see tangible benefits from the new trade deals anytime soon.” Perdue has repeatedly said he believes exports will grow and another round of trade aid won’t be needed.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, met with Secretary Perdue and the entire Nebraska congressional delegation at the Department of Agriculture to discuss challenges to Nebraska agriculture.
“We just spent an hour talking about Nebraska agriculture with Secretary Perdue,” said Senator Sasse. “We let the Agriculture Secretary know that nobody out hustles Nebraska farmers, and we talked about some of the ways we can give predictability to these families as they slog through everything from disaster applications to bizarre environmental red tape. We gave the Department of Agriculture an unvarnished look at the challenges we’ve got and the Secretary committed to partnering with us on some important priorities.”
During the meeting, Sasse and the Nebraska delegation thanked the Secretary of Agriculture for beginning the sign up for sugar beet producers impacted by the canal collapse in July 2019 and early frost in October 2019. Sugar beet producers are eligible for disaster assistance under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP Plus) and sign up begins March 23. This is an important resource for sugar beet growers in western Nebraska that were hit hard by disasters.
Sasse and the delegation relayed concerns from Nebraska farmers who are going into the 2020 crop year facing excessive moisture still in the ground from the 2019 floods and a lack of irrigation following 2019’s irrigation canal collapse.
Sasse and the delegation asked the Department of Agriculture to ease environment restrictions on Nebraska farmers who face delays in completing post-flood restoration work because of bureaucratic environmental red tape. We want our farmers to get in the fields as planting season will start soon.