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.