All hands on deck to pass USMCA
The success of the American agriculture industry is directly linked to our ability to engage in free, fair and enforceable trade with partners from around the globe. To continue supporting Illinois agriculture, our farmers need trade agreements that align with the reality of modern agriculture and the 21st century economy.
Illinois Farm Bureau supports the passage of such agreements that will open markets for our farmers and their agricultural products. We need signed and ratified agreements to ensure that American agriculture has a strong foothold within the global marketplace.
In this very moment, all hands are on deck to get the U.S. Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Illinois Farm Bureau has been working diligently towards its ratification – or as we say, “all hands on deck.” Through our efforts, more than 1600 Illinois Farm Bureau members have made more than 6,000 contacts to their congressman.
Illinois Farm Bureau leadership, including the IFB president, vice president and national legislative team, have participated in multiple fly-ins to D.C. to amplify the need for swift ratification of the USMCA. We’ve spoken face-to-face with lawmakers – including members of the Illinois General Assembly, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and additional legislators to stress the need for trade with our closest neighbors.
Our communications team has fielded nonstop media interview requests from national media outlets in the spring and summer months. In fulfilling these requests from journalists at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Business News, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal and more, we have kept farmers’ livelihoods on the minds of decision-makers in Washington, D.C. and Springfield.
Illinois has much to gain from USMCA ratification. Canada and Mexico are responsible for a 29 percent and a 14 percent market share of all Illinois exports, respectively.
For Illinois agriculture, Canada accounts for 18 percent of all Illinois agricultural exports and Mexico accounts for 10 percent. With Canada and Mexico, alone, Illinois farmers export 40 percent of their corn, 13 percent of their beef and 34 percent of their pork to the two countries.
And not only will this agreement help businesses in each of its most important sectors – including agricultural expansion into new international markets – it invests heavily in the manufacturing sector, which has vast benefits for businesses and consumers statewide. USMCA preserves zero tariffs and includes strong provisions that would help level the playing field for farmers, manufacturers and workers, ensuring more products are made right here in Illinois and across America.
As combines continue to harvest the 2019 crop – concluding a season of extreme weather challenges – Illinois farmers need certainty. We need markets for our corn, soybeans, wheat, the list goes on.
Fortunately, in the past few weeks, several wins on the trade front have come to pass.
After 18 months in limbo, the latest news of a partial trade agreement with China was both significant and celebratory. This limited deal is a step in the right direction, though current tariffs remain in place. There is more work to be done as details of this mini deal come to light.
Additionally, a signed trade agreement with Japan, our fourth-largest export market, also holds promise for advantageous trade benefits between our two nations.
With progress being made on the U.S.-China trade war and other international relationships, the biggest priority on the table is USMCA ratification. Distractions of the election year, party divisions and impeachment proceedings will not deter us from getting this message across. Generations of farmers and their livelihoods depend on the action we take now, together, to get this done.