Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the need to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to give farmers and ranchers more certainty and preserve and expand market access while boosting the U.S. economy as a whole.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, farmers and ranchers have gotten some good news on the trade front in recent weeks, with the signing of a trade deal with Japan.
“U.S. farmers depend on access to the Japanese market — it’s the fourth-largest market for U.S. agricultural products — and this agreement will remove barriers to the sale of a variety of products, from cheese and sweet corn to beef, pork, and wheat.
“But while this is very good news for farmers and ranchers, we have a lot more work to do on the trade front to help our ag community and increase demand for American agricultural products around the world.
“And we should start by passing the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
“Canada and Mexico are the number-one and number-two markets for American agriculture products, and preserving and expanding access to these markets is key to improving the economic outlook for American farmers.
“Over a year ago, the administration finished negotiating a strong deal with these countries that will help boost our struggling agriculture economy.
“To start with, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will provide farmers with certainty about what these important markets are going to look like going forward.
“One of the biggest challenges facing farmers on the trade front right now is the uncertainty about what markets around the world are going to look like.
“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will give farmers and ranchers clarity about what trade is going to look like with these two key trading partners.
“In addition to providing certainty and preserving market access for American farmers and ranchers, the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement makes a number of improvements to the status quo.
“Of particular interest to South Dakota are the agreement’s dairy provisions.
“Drive the I-29 corridor north of Brookings, and you can see firsthand the major dairy expansion South Dakota has experienced over the past several years.
“The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will preserve U.S. dairy farmers’ role as a key dairy supplier to Mexico, and it will substantially expand market access in Canada.
“The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the agreement will boost U.S. dairy exports by more than $277 million.
“The agreement will also expand market access for U.S. poultry and egg producers.
“It will make it easier for U.S. producers to export wheat to Canada.
“And Mr. President, I’ve just focused on the benefits for farmers.
“In fact, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will benefit almost every sector of our economy, from the automobile industry to digital trade and e-commerce.
“It will create 176,000 jobs.
“And it will raise wages for workers.
“So given the major benefits, not only for farmers but for the economy as a whole, why hasn’t Congress passed this agreement yet?
“The answer to that is simple.
“By law, the House of Representatives has to take up this agreement first, and the House has unfortunately been more focused on political theater than on collaborating on measures that would actually help American families.
“And unfortunately it doesn’t look like that’s going to change.
“With even the speaker of the House joining the far-left’s impeachment crusade, I don’t think it’s too likely that Democrats are going to wake up one morning and decide that they should spend less time on partisan politics and more time working with Republicans to pass real solutions for the American people.
“But I do hope Democrats won’t destroy this trade agreement.
“There are thousands of farmers in my state — and around the country — who are waiting for the relief that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement would bring.
“It’s past time to pass this trade deal.”