Agriculture leaders and Iowa lawmakers applauded last week’s announcement of an agreement between the U.S. House leadership and the Trump administration on the proposed trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. They urged Congress to quickly approve the North American free trade deal—officially called the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement or USMCA—to solidify two of the top markets for U.S. farm exports.

“With Canada and Mexico being Iowa’s top two trading partners, this updated trade agreement will greatly impact our state,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said. “We are one step closer and I strongly encourage the House and Senate to quickly take action to approve this deal.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called the USMCA “a strong, balanced and modern trade agreement that will create opportunities for Iowa families, farmers, manufacturers and small businesses by expanding markets for our world-class exports.”

Swift passage of the USMCA is critical for farm families who are facing increasing financial stress, said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Agriculture is at a critical crossroads with the downturn in commodity prices, losses from natural disasters and the trade war,” said Duvall, a Georgia cattle and poultry raiser. “This is an opportunity for Congress not only to help U.S. farmers and ranchers turn the corner on trade, but also show that Washington can still get things done on a bipartisan basis.”

The changes in the USMCA agreed to by House leadership and the Trump administration were ratified and signed last week in Mexico City by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his counterparts from Canada and Mexico. 

The new USMCA agreement would be an upgrade to the nearly 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and would continue U.S. farmers’ duty-free access to Canada and Mexico.

Top Markets

In 2018 Canada and Mexico were the two top markets for U.S. exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Sales of food and ag products to Canada totaled $20.7 billion and sales to Mexico were $19 billion. Those exports support more than 325,000 American jobs, the department said.

All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement will retain that. The new agreement will provide added market access opportunities for U.S. dairy, poultry and eggs to Canada.

The International Trade Commission estimated that USMCA, when fully implemented, would add $2.2 billion to U.S. ag export value.

The agreement between the U.S. House leadership and the Trump administration came after months of delay to negotiated labor, environmental and other issues.