USMCA trade deal reached; Ratified documents soon heading to Congress

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PEORIA, Ill. — A trade deal aimed to benefit farmers across the U.S. is one step closer to being finalized.

Pres. Trump and House Democrats have reached an agreement on a modified United States Mexico Canada Agreement.

Central Illinois lawmakers and the Peoria County Farm Bureau manager are hoping this is a huge win for central Illinois farmers.

“We have 9,600 family farms. On top of that, we have 90,000 labor households. When you can get a deal that is good for working men and women and is good for our family farmers altogether. That’s a good day,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).

“We’re allowing more products that are made and produced in Illinois to go more places. That equals jobs and economic opportunities for people in my district and across the state of Illinois,” said Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

According to the Trade Partnership, Illinois exports to Mexico and Canada racked up $2.8 billion just last year.

Along with that, nearly 23,000 jobs are supported by agricultural exports to the U.S.’ neighboring countries.

Peoria County Farm Bureau Manager Patrick Kirchhofer says farmers getting better prices on their product means more money spent in our local economies.

“We hope that it improves the market for farm commodities. That’s corn, soybeans, beef, pork, wheat, and dairy. If it does improve the markets, it should improve the prices that farmers receive,” Kirchhofer said.

Kirchhofer adds he hopes this deal is an improvement from NAFTA.

“We’re hoping it’s an improvement from NAFTA. It does maintain the access-free tariffs to both Canada and Mexico which is a great thing for agriculture and farmers,” Kirchhofer said.

Kirchhofer says Illinois is one of the greatest states in the country in regard to agriculture and farming.

“In Illinois, we grow corn and soybeans and are one of the two major producing states of those commodities. We’re blessed with the Mississippi River to our west and we’ve got the Illinois River cutting through the heart of the state. These two modes of transportation are the most efficient modes of transportation that we have,” Kirchhofer said.

While lawmakers only have eight working days left this year, Rep. LaHood says he thinks we’ll see a vote from Congress very soon.

“This is a win for the country and I’m glad we could do it in a bipartisan way. We haven’t voted yet, but it looks like we’ll have a vote here in the next week,” said Rep. LaHood.

Rep. LaHood believes this will positively impact manufacturing companies in central Illinois.

“It’s good news for our farmers, for our manufacturers such as Caterpillar, John Deere, ADM. This is a win for the American people,” Rep. LaHood said.

Rep. Bustos adds that this deal could lead to bigger and better things for agricultural trade.

“We need to continue to expand our markets. It’s not just Canada and Mexico, but we were on a good path to grow markets in places like Cuba. All of that came to a stop after President Obama left office,” said Rep. Bustos.

Rep. Bustos adds while this period of time has been negatively historic due to the impeachment process, it’s good to have some good news.

“This is absolutely huge. As historic as this day is in a bad way through the articles of impeachment, on the other end of it, this is great news that we have come to an agreement on this trade deal,” Rep. Bustos said.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the USMCA is expected to increase U.S. ag exports by $2 billion and result in a $65 billion increase in gross domestic product.

The Federation adds this agreement gives U.S. dairy products access to an additional 3.6% of Canada’s dairy market.

“U.S. wheat will receive fairer treatment, thanks to Canada’s agreement to grade our wheat no less favorably than its own,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Additional provisions enhance science-based trading standards among the three nations as the basis for sanitary and phytosanitary measures for ag products, as well as progress in the area of geographic indications,” Duvall said. “The agreement also includes measures that address cooperation, information sharing and other trade rules among the three nations related to agricultural biotechnology and gene editing,” Duvall added.

The Illinois Farm Bureau gave high praise to the news of the USMCA moving forward.

“This is excellent news for the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois farmers. We are appreciative of the work by Speaker Pelosi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer to reach an agreement to move this important trade deal to a vote before Congress adjourns in December,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr.

“This timely news coincides with the Sense of the Delegate Body resolution regarding USMCA’s swift ratification passed by Illinois Farm Bureau delegates during their annual meeting yesterday. We will once again activate our members and work toward swift congressional ratification in the House and Senate,” Guebert, Jr. added.

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