Farm Bureau & Ag Industry Push to Enforce USMCA

Published: Mar. 23, 2021; Photo creds: Ivan Hernández

27 leading food and agriculture associations have sent a letter communicating growing concerns over the rapid deterioration of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The letter calls attention to alarming recent developments with regard to food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico and urges action to address these challenges.

Together, the group of associations represent much of the food and agriculture sector that is responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting over 23 million jobs – constituting nearly 15 percent of total U.S. employment. Signers include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, International Dairy Foods Association, North American Meat Institute, National Grain & Feed Association, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

The letter reads:

“Mexico is one of America’s most important food and agriculture trade partners. NAFTA has yielded strong benefits to both countries and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) promises to build upon those gains. Yet, the food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico has declined markedly, a trend USMCA’s implementation has not reversed. We respectfully urge your attention to this important but quickly deteriorating trade relationship.”

Leading concerns highlighted by the group include a ban on glyphosate and genetically modified corn, increased obstacles to dairy trade, an organic export certification requirement, a state-sponsored campaign disparaging corn sweeteners from the U.S., a cessation of review and approval of biotechnology applications, implications from meat industry market access and geographical indications, a potato export ban, and a new front-of-pack labeling regulation. These issues, along with a high number of investigations on Mexico’s fresh produce exports to the U.S., hamper the competitiveness of U.S. farmers, ranchers, and other members of the food and agriculture sector.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai regarding the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship.

“AFBF is extremely concerned with the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and our neighbors to the south. We built strong trade ties with Mexico through NAFTA and improved upon them with USMCA, but recent moves by Mexico to limit American imports and to undercut prices in the U.S. puts America’s farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.

“We urge Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Tai to engage with Mexico and enforce the agreements between our two countries to ensure farmers have a level playing field and continue to lead the world in producing safe, affordable food.”

Read the letter here.