TCFA sent an independent letter to the Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma congressional delegations this week calling for the swift ratification of the United States, Mexico and Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA).
“Texas leads the nation in both cow-calf production and fed cattle production, so developing and maintaining strong foreign markets for U.S. beef greatly benefits the industry and the state’s economy,” the letter sent to Texas members said. “For over 25 years, the cattle/beef industry has benefited from unrestricted, duty-free access to Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 2018, U.S. beef exports to Mexico and Canada totaled $1.8 billion, accounting for an additional $70 per head and providing value throughout the production chain.”
The letter goes on to state that NAFTA has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of U.S. agriculture (especially U.S. beef) and calls on Congress ratify the new agreement.
What's more, farmers and ranchers need the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement to be approved by Congress now. That is the message Levi Berry, TCFA chairman; Russel Boening, Texas Farm Bureau president; and Bobby McKnight, TSCRA president, wrote in an op-ed that ran in the San Antonio Express News on Friday.
The letter stresses the positive impact the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had on the Texas economy, and points out how our state’s economy, particularly as it pertains to agriculture, will suffer without a trade agreement with both Canada and Mexico.
“Texas agriculture has flourished under sound trade policies. Unfortunately, these successful policies are at risk, and that alarms Texas farmers and ranchers,” the group wrote. “Congress has the power to help. Ratifying the USMCA would provide a much-needed boost to Texas agriculture and would benefit our rural communities that depend on exports to Canada and Mexico for economic success.”
Since NAFTA’s enactment in 1994, U.S. agricultural exports worldwide climbed from $46 billion to $139.6 billion in 2018 — a 202% increase. During that same period, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada grew from $10 billion to $39.7 billion per year — a 297% increase.
In Texas, economic activity related to agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada account for more than $3.7 billion and 22,972 jobs. USMCA seeks to build upon NAFTA’s success. And, while USMCA was signed in November 2018, the group points out that all three countries must ratify the agreement in their legislative bodies before it can take effect.
Meanwhile, TCFA along with NCBA and 38 state affiliate organizations sent a letter to Congress asking for quick approval on USMCA. NCBA delivered the letter this week to the four top congressional leaders urging swift ratification, emphasizing that exports of U.S. beef to Canada and Mexico totaled $1.8 billion in 2018 and added $70 in value per head.
In the letter, the groups also strongly encouraged congressional leaders to oppose efforts to reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL), which was repealed by Congress in 2015 and cost the U.S. beef industry hundreds of millions of dollars to implement with no benefit.
TCFA was among 119 Texas industry groups that sent a letter to Congress this week calling for swift action and support of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The groups reinforced the need for ratification of USMCA in order to provide certainty for the many business sectors in Texas, including agriculture, that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico, while in turn contributing to the U.S. economy.
“USMCA would create much needed certainty for Texas farm and ranch families who contribute to the economy and feed and clothe millions worldwide,” the letter stated. “Over 60,400 Texas jobs are supported by exporting agricultural products to Mexico and Canada. The annual value of Texas’ agricultural exports to our North American neighbors totals more than $7.2 billion. USMCA would only build on these achievements by breaking down existing trade barriers and opening more market access for products like beef, dairy, corn, wheat and pork.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Mexican Senate passed the USMCA becoming the first country to ratify the new trade agreement.
“The Texas beef industry has flourished under sound trade policies. The beef supply chains between the United States, Mexico and Canada have worked together for decades to serve consumers at home and abroad a safe and consistent supply of affordable, quality beef," said Levi Berry, TCFA chairman. "We must protect this vital trade relationship by ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”
In a statement, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) also praised Mexico and reiterated Congress’ need for swift action.
“Today’s action, combined with passage of Mexico’s landmark labor legislation earlier this spring, demonstrates Mexico’s solid commitment to serious reform and tough new rules to create fairer trade. Now it’s time for the U.S. Congress to pass USMCA as soon as possible to unlock the benefits of this agreement for U.S. workers and our local businesses. The longer Congress delays, the more our country loses out on new jobs, more customers for Made-in-America goods, and a stronger economy,” Brady said.