September 9, 2019

The Pressure Is On Congress To Pass USMCA

 |  By: Mike Opperman

It has been more than a year since the Trump administration announced a trade deal with Canada and Mexico that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Agriculture groups lost patience long ago over the need to pass the United States Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

The U.S. dairy industry relies heavily on exports to our neighbors to the north and south and, as dairy farms continue to go out of business, dairy industry groups are calling for Congress, which is now back in session, to get off their hands and get something passed.

“Now is not the time for more delays and excuses,” according to a statement by the American Dairy Coalition (ADC). The group sites data from the U.S. International Trade Commission reporting that the USMCA will create 176,000 more jobs and grow the economy by $68 billion. 

“Every day that passes without USMCA ratification, the more other countries are racing into offshore markets to replace our dairy and agriculture industries. Those are business connections that may be permanently closed off to American producers going forward,” the ADC says. “When someone is bleeding, the most important thing you can do is stop the bleeding. In the same vein, the most important thing Congress can do now is stop the ongoing bleeding of overseas markets.”

Republicans want a vote on USMCA, according to Jim Wiesemeyer, ProFarmer analyst, but House Democrats are not satisfied their concerns have been met. Those concerns include labor rights, environmental protection, a 10-year guarantee of monopoly pricing for biologic drugs and strong measures to enforce provisions in the proposed USMCA. A working group is expected to negotiate with U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer in September or October to go through proposed changes.

Congressional Republicans will soon call on Pelosi to tell the administration to send implementing legislation for the agreement to the House which, according to Wiesemeyer, triggers a 90-day clock for action under expedited procedures that bar amendments.