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A Bipartisan Win for South Dakota Agriculture

By Sen. John Thune

January 17, 2020

The Republican-led Senate, the Democrat-led House of Representatives, and the president all agree: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will modernize the longstanding trade relationship with South Dakota’s top trading partners and help take us further into the 21st century.  

I’m relieved that after more than a year of unnecessary delay by House Democrats, the Senate recently voted 89 to 10 to send this bipartisan deal to the president. From my position as a senior member of the Finance Committee, I personally advocated for USMCA for more than a year now, and I will never stop advocating for South Dakota’s hardworking farmers and ranchers, who, I hope, can breathe a little easier knowing it will soon be signed into law.  

Mexico has already approved the deal, and Canada is standing ready. USMCA will soon bring greater certainty to the entire U.S. economy, particularly the agriculture economy, which has faced numerous challenges over the last few years.

The benefits of USMCA are clear. It’s expected to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, raise wages, contribute tens of millions of dollars to the economy, boost U.S. dairy exports by more than $277 million, and expand market access for U.S. poultry, egg, and wheat producers. It’s also expected to strengthen everything from manufacturing to digital services to the automotive industry. It’s not a perfect agreement, but for South Dakota, USMCA is a big win.

USMCA isn’t the only trade win for South Dakota farmers and ranchers. The “phase one” trade deal with China is now in effect, and I was honored to be at the White House for the signing ceremony. While the United States needs to ensure China actually holds up its end of the deal, the phase one provisions will significantly increase demand for American agriculture products – soybeans in particular. Reopening this market for South Dakota’s farmers is an important and timely win.

Neither one of these trade deals will be a cure-all that wipes away farm country’s pain and suffering, even though that’s what farmers and ranchers deserve after years of significant unease. They will take meaningful steps, though, to help turn the tide and make tomorrow a little brighter than today.

There’s no doubt that USMCA is a win for South Dakota agriculture, and Congress and the administration should continue to pursue pro-growth, pro-agriculture policies. I remain committed to ensuring the agriculture community gets the support it needs to continue its mission of feeding the world, one row of South Dakota soybeans or corn at a time.