Scores of farm leaders from across the nation rallied on Capitol Hill to get the Mexico-Canada trade agreement across the Congressional finish line, before election season kicks into high gear.
They came from across the Heartland, and from north and south, to hail USMCA for producers struggling with trade wars, disasters and years of low prices.
The rally by Farmers for Free Trade heard bipartisan support for the deal worth more than two billion in expected new U.S. farm sales.
“I think it’s a good agreement, and it’s something that we need to get done.,” said House Ag Chair Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). “Right now, I’m optimistic about the chances of getting this done. I talked to Chairman Neal on Monday night, and he was pretty confident that we’re going to have a vote in the next month or two.”
Peterson called for patience, as Speaker Pelosi tries to build support among Democratic “skeptics.” However, Ways and Means ranking Republican Kevin Brady of Texas argued, time’s run out.
“We can’t delay any longer,” said Brady. “Every day we delay, it hurts our farmers, our workers, our communities, and our economy in a major way…and it helps China, every day we delay.”
Former USDA chief and now head of the US Dairy Export Council, Tom Vilsack–another Democrat behind USMCA.
“Not just 2.5 million American farmers are dependent on the vote that will take place, hopefully, sometime this fall, on the USMCA…but there are 43-million Americans who work in the food and agriculture industry in this country,” said Vilsack. “That’s 28 percent of America’s workforce.”
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval says it’s not about the politics, but about Americans.
“Look who’s sitting around with us, today, Democrats and Republicans talking about, not just trade for farmers, but trade for Americans,” said Duval.
Speaker Pelosi said at her weekly press conference, Democrats and the White House are making progress on USMCA, but the deal must have strong enforcement provisions, which she insists could be done “surgically” without a wholesale reopening of the deal. Mexico has already ratified the agreement.