Farm, leaders, members of Congress rally for USMCA
Farm leaders and members of Congress gathered on the National Mall Thursday to rally for approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement on trade.
The rally took place in front of a 25-foot recreational vehicle festooned with pro-USMCA signs that had traveled 20,000 miles to 30 states and made 100 stops promoting approval during a “Motorcade for Trade” sponsored by Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan group.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who broke with his own history of opposition to trade agreements to endorse USMCA months ago, urged the attendees to be patient, but to expect a vote later this fall.
“I’m optimistic,” Peterson told reporters after he spoke to those gathered.
Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have called on the Trump administration to address a series of their concerns, particularly whether provisions of the agreement can be enforced.
Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has sent his proposals to address the Democrats’ concerns to the House leadership, but Peterson said he has not seen them.
House Agriculture ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, led a series of Republican House members who spoke and mostly called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to bring the bill up on the floor in September.
Farm leaders also spoke, repeating earlier statements that USMCA will provide farmers with new market access in Canada and Mexico while maintaining the zero-tariff platform they rely on.
The event, organized by Farmers for Free Trade, was chaired by former Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., the spokesperson for the group.
Other groups that participated included:
▪ American Farm Bureau Federation
▪ American Soybean Association
▪ National Corn Growers Association
▪ U.S. Apple Association
▪ National Milk Producers Federation
▪ U.S. Dairy Export Council
▪ Corn Refiners Association
▪ National Association of Wheat Growers
▪ Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.
Farmers for Free Trade has scheduled a roundtable at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center today for the agriculture groups to discuss the impact of USMCA on each sector.
Some producer groups have asked for Country of Origin Labeling for beef in the USMCA agreement.
NCBA continues to urge for no mandatory country of origin labeling in the USMCA: “MCOOL was U.S. law for six years until it was repealed by Congress in 2015 to avoid $1 billion of retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico that were sanctioned by the World Trade Organization (WTO),” a July letter to Congress.
“The truth is, MCOOL cost the U.S. beef industry hundreds of millions of dollars to implement, and the vast majority of consumers never paid attention to it. Our industry has suffered enough with this bad idea and we do not need to relive the sins of the past.”R-CALF USA, in a letter to the House Ag Committee earlier this summer, said: “Without mandatory COOL, importers source cheaper imported beef from over 20 foreign countries and they source live cattle from Canada and Mexico. They then can offer all of this cheaper-sourced beef to consumers as if it were produced by American farmers and ranchers. This occurs because the 2015 repeal of the COOL law for beef and pork eliminated the requirement that all imported beef retain its foreign label through retail sale. And, because current law allows all beef that is processed in a U.S.-based packing plant to bear a ‘Product of U.S.A.’ label.”
US Cattlemen’s Association, in a 2018 letter to President Trump said, “USCA and cattle producers across the countryrespectfully request that the modernized NAFTA include a provision that would commit Canada and Mexico to withdrawing both their COOL complaint and damage award at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which would then eliminate the tariff penalties and the jurisprudence. Once this occurs, COOL may be reinserted into the “NAFTA 2.0” implementing legislation. When Congress then passes this renegotiated trade agreement, the language would automatically pass and enact COOL once again. Since Canada and Mexico would have withdrawn their complaint and award, COOL would become WTO legal.”
–The Hagstrom Report (edited to include organization statements)
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