Click here or on the picture above to watch Thune’s speech.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the importance of passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as quickly as possible. Last week, seven former U.S. agriculture secretaries from both Democrat and Republican administrations sent a letter to House and Senate leadership stating their strong bipartisan support for USMCA.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, in just a few days, we will mark the one-year anniversary of the president concluding negotiations on the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
“It’s time for Congress to ratify this agreement now.
“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will benefit pretty much every sector of the U.S. economy.
“The automobile industry.
“Digital trade and e-commerce.
“And, of course, agriculture.
“Mr. President, as the representative of a state whose lifeblood is agriculture, farmers and ranchers are always at the top of my mind.
“And a huge focus of mine right now is helping our struggling agriculture economy.
“Low commodity and livestock prices, natural disasters, and protracted trade disputes have meant a tough few years for farmers.
“One of the most important things we can do to help our agriculture economy recover is to open new markets for American agricultural products.
“During August, I spent a lot of time talking to farmers back home in South Dakota.
“And again and again, they emphasized that they need action on trade from Washington.
“With so many trade deals currently up in the air, farmers and ranchers are struggling with a lack of certainty about what international markets are going to look like.
“While they share the president’s goal of addressing trade imbalances and securing more favorable conditions for American products, they also believe that we need to conclude the agreements we’re negotiating as soon as possible.
“The longer negotiations drag on, the tougher their situation gets.
“That’s why I’ve repeatedly stressed the need to bring these agreements to a swift conclusion.
“And I emphasize that point to the president nearly every time I talk to him.
“However, there’s one deal we don’t need to wait for – the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
“As I said earlier, negotiations on this agreement concluded a year ago.
“And it’s high time for Congress to take it up and pass it so that our farmers and ranchers can start seeing the benefits.
“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a big win for farmers and ranchers.
“Of particular interest to South Dakota are the agreement’s dairy provisions.
“Dairy is an important and rapidly growing industry in South Dakota.
“Drive the I-29 corridor north of Brookings, and you can see firsthand the massive dairy expansion we’ve experienced over the past few 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, where U.S. dairy sales have been restricted.
“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.
“Above all, this agreement will provide farmers and ranchers with certainty about what the Canadian and Mexican markets will look like going forward.
“American farmers depend upon these markets to sell their products, and it’s vital that farmers have a clear idea of what these markets are going to look like in the future.
“Mr. President, Republicans in the Senate are ready to take action on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at any point.
“I hope House Democrats will quickly work out their remaining issues and indicate their willingness to vote on this deal.
“The administration has made addressing Democrats’ concerns a priority throughout the negotiation process.
“And it’s time for Democrats to bring this process to a swift conclusion.
“Last week, seven former U.S. agriculture secretaries from both Democrat and Republican administrations sent a letter to House and Senate leadership stating their strong support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“As the secretaries noted, and I quote, ‘With farmers facing one of the lowest net farm incomes in the last decade, USMCA would create enhanced export opportunities and help fully capitalize on increased global demand for food products. Furthermore, USMCA would significantly boost farm incomes and create jobs both on and off the farm in rural communities.’
“Mr. President, life has not been easy for our nation’s farmers and ranchers over the past few years.
“And the surest way to stabilize and boost farm income and help farm country is to conclude agreements like USMCA.
“I urge my Democrat colleagues in the House to make getting this deal over the finish line their number-one priority.”