The six-week August break did folks some good – my colleagues on the right, and many on the left, are ready to get to work on passing the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). It’s amazing the spark that ignites when legislators spend six weeks hearing from their bosses back home. Democrats and Republicans are finding common ground on this issue – that’s a win for America.
I spent the majority of my first week back in Washington meeting with ag groups to talk trade. On Thursday, farmers from across the country gathered near the Capitol’s reflecting pool to rally for the passage of this 21st century trade agreement. Farmers for Free Trade, a group led by former Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, traveled by bus across the country to bring the message of USMCA to local agriculture communities. The last stop on the tour was the steps of our nation’s Capitol.
During our rally, former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and President Zippy Duvall from the American Farm Bureau addressed a crowd of over one-hundred ag community leaders and legislators. Zippy urged both myself and my colleagues to “finish the drill.” I agree with Zippy – we are in the fourth quarter at the end zone, it’s not time to fumble.
It’s no secret in Washington that for months now, Speaker Pelosi has held up a vote on USMCA. However, during our USMCA rally with producers, Democrat Representative Cuellar from Texas assured the crowd that USMCA was going to get done this year and Pelosi would put the bill on the floor. Producers received further assurance from Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson that USMCA would happen and needs to wrap up quickly so we can continue to leverage with China.
Not only will this agreement bring certainty to our nation’s closest trading partners – Canada and Mexico – but it will provide farmers with the relief needed following unprecedented weather challenges and trade obstacles. Farmers don’t want aid, they want trade – exports would increase by $2.2 billion under USMCA.
If we have the opportunity to open up new markets, we should take it. We are in our fifth year of a declining farm economy and commodity prices continue to go up and down. USMCA opens the Canadian market up for the first time to American dairy, wheat, poultry, and turkey products, further expanding exporting opportunity for America’s farmers and ranchers. There is no reason to delay the additional trade certainty USMCA would provide.
President Trump and his administration did their job. They negotiated an agreement that protects American jobs and drives growth. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again and again until Speaker Pelosi brings the bill to the floor. Madam Speaker, we need to pass the USMCA now.