Kansas farmers, ranchers welcome USMCA signing

January 29, 2020
In The News

President Donald Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Wednesday at the White House. In December, Mexico ratified the agreement; however, Canada has not done so. The opening of the dairy market between the U.S. and Canada has led to division in Canada.

Kansas farmers have varied reactions to the agreement; however, most are relieved.

“It’s a good thing,” said James Nightingale, of Burrton. “It’s just been such a long wait for the shoot-from-the-hip actions by what the administration have done for the farmers.”

Nightingale said he is worried the U.S. will not be able to rebuild markets with Mexico. Others think the trade will flow easily.

“Mexico is our biggest corn dealer,” said Marvin Miller, a farmer in Partridge. “I think it’s going to be a good deal for Kansas farmers.”

The United States International Trade Commission report estimated USMCA would raise U.S. real gross domestic product by more than $68 billion. This is 35% greater than it had been. The agreement, according to USITC, will expand U.S. employment by 176,000 jobs. U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico would increase by more than 5%. The U.S. exported a combined $4 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico in 2018. U.S. imports from Canada and Mexico are expected to expand by more than 9%.

Representatives from the Kansas Corn Commission, the Kansas Soybean Commission, Kansas Wheat and Kansas Grain Sorghum applauded the USMCA during a panel discussion at the Kansas Commodity Classic on Jan. 24.

“The agreement will result in millions of dollars in new economic activity and jobs for the Kansas economy,” U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said at the conference. “Full implementation of the USMCA will increase U.S. exports to the world by $2.2 billion.”

Teagarden said there are some markets where the export of meat is large.

“Tongues are valued three times more in Mexico than in the U.S.,” he said. “The more we can export to Mexico, the more value there is.”

Don Teske, a rancher in Pottawatomie County and president of the Kansas Farmers Union, said the agreement does not address import dumping. Nor is there mandatory country of origin labeling — this is only done on a voluntary basis.

“I suspect that the USMCA trade agreement is going to be unnoticed,” Teske said. “I think it will be business as usual.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the pact will not be enforced until 90 days after Canada ratifies it.

“This agreement will bring long-term stability for Kansas agriculture, and not to mention, millions of dollars in new trade opportunities that will result in thousands of Kansas jobs,” Marshall said in a release. “I was proud to stand by a President who just delivered big on behalf of hard working Kansans.”

Jacob Knobloch, of JFK Farms in Gridley, is relieved to see the plan go through.

“I think it will be a good deal,” said Knobloch. “The most disappointing thing is how long it’s taken to go through Congress. It’s become a partisan Ping-Pong. Congress was doing the general public a disservice by holding onto it. Trade is good for everybody.”

For beef, the new agreement is not much different from the North American Free Trade Agreement, said Matt Teagarden, the CEO of the Kansas Livestock Association. It, however, removed uncertainty about the viability of trade.

“Getting this agreement done is a real important for ranchers,” Teagarden said. “If it benefits the U.S. beef industry, it benefits Kansas.”

 

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