IFB joins more than 950 groups in USMCA support letter

IFB leaders also discussed the importance of the trade deal in Washington this week.

By Joanie Stiers

In a unified effort rarely this large, more than 950 agriculture and food organizations submitted letters to Washington’s leadership this week, urging swift ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“It’s rare to have a support letter that is sent out to have that many groups on the letter,” said Adam Nielsen, Illinois Farm Bureau director of national legislation. “In this instance, it’s necessary to remind folks on Capitol Hill that this is an issue that touches a lot of agricultural groups beyond just farmers.”

The letter’s recipients included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The list of signatories spanned 11 pages and showed broad agricultural support from groups at the local, state and national levels. Groups on the list represented livestock, grains, specialty crops, credit agencies, transportation, farm cooperatives, food companies, and 200 state and county farm Bureaus, among other organizations. Illinois Farm Bureau and 54 county Farm Bureaus in the state signed the letter, including Carroll County Farm Bureau.

“The fact that so many people and organizations signed that letter, it’s obvious that everybody is on the same page about this trade issue with our close neighbors Canada and Mexico,” said Ed Livengood, Carroll County Farm Bureau president. “Over the last couple years, we’ve seen prices struggling and that all has to do with trade. To be able to work with our neighbors to our north and the south is a very big deal.”

The letter concisely stated the overwhelming benefits to the U.S. agriculture and food industry, consumers and the economy. Signatories cited estimates that the new agreement will add $68.2 billion to annual gross domestic product. They noted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) more than quadrupled U.S. food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico in 25 years. It also boosted the food supply for U.S. consumers and supported more than 900,000 American jobs related to food and agriculture.

“USMCA builds on the success of the NAFTA agreement and will ultimately lead to freer markets and fairer trade,” the groups wrote.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. discussed USMCA with lawmakers during his visit to Washington, D.C., this week. Groups await Pelosi to call the trade agreement to the House floor.

“There is a lot of stress out there in the countryside; we farmers need a quick win,” Guebert said. “We need confidence going forward that there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is progress being made and an opportunity for agriculture to really shine again.”

Click here to read the USMCA Grassroots letter.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.