In a bipartisan vote of 89-10, the U.S. Senate last week approved the implementing legislation for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  The new trilateral agreement updates the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by bringing the deal into the 21st Century and providing U.S. farmers with valuable new export opportunities.  U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (both R-Idaho) both voted in support of the trilateral pact.

“There was no question that the original NAFTA needed to be re-negotiated,” Crapo said.  “The original NAFTA agreement was flawed because many goods and services originating in the United States received unfair treatment among trading partners.  It also failed to provide sufficient market access and address problematic pricing structures and restrictive trade practices in the dairy sector.  This agreement is projected to raise U.S. real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by over $68 billion and create nearly 176,000 jobs.  President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s forceful negotiations of the USMCA will provide much-needed stability, certainty and market access for agricultural producers in Idaho who export products to our valued trading partners in Canada in Mexico.”

“NAFTA created market opportunities for Idaho’s agricultural industry, but the time has come for our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico to be improved and modernized,” Risch said.  “The USMCA will provide our farmers and ranchers with a trade agreement that opens markets for commodities like dairy products, while providing much needed certainty. This is a win for Idaho’s small businesses and ag producers, and I’m proud we were able to get this historic deal done.”

Of particular interest to Idaho, the USMCA will expand market access for farmers and addresses longstanding non-tariff barriers restricting U.S. producers’ ability to export wheat and wine to Canada.  The USMCA contains a win for Idaho’s dairymen by eliminating Canada’s Class 6 and 7 milk-ingredient price programs that hindered U.S. exports to third-country markets.  These changes under USMCA are expected to increase U.S. dairy exports to Canada by $227 million and Mexico by $50.6 million.  Idaho is a leader in U.S. dairy production. 

“The Idaho Dairymen’s Association appreciates the work of Senators Crapo and Risch for their support in passage of the USMCA,” said IDA Chief Executive Officer Rick Naerebout.  “The agreement provides certainty for access to the Mexican marketplace, the dairy industry’s #1 trade partner.”

Free and fair trade is vital for Idaho’s $4 billion export industry.  Canada and Mexico are Idaho’s number one and five overall trading partners respectively, with the countries being the top two destinations for nearly half of Idaho’s roughly $2 billion food and agricultural export industry.  The USMCA will provide Idaho farmers, ranchers, and small businesses with a trade agreement that opens new trading pathways while maintaining existing channels for top exports including potatoes, canola, and beef cattle.

The USMCA will also be the first U.S. free trade agreement with a digital trade chapter, fostering U.S. growth in the digital economy for firms of all sectors and sizes.

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