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NFU Says USMCA Deal Falls Short of Fair Trade Framework for Family Farmers

04 December 2018

Last week, officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico signed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the renegotiated trade deal formerly known as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement will not have binding force in the United States until it is approved by the US Congress.

National Farmers Union (NFU) said that while USMCA makes important improvements over NAFTA, the deal currently does not go far enough to institute a fair trade framework that benefits family farmers and ranchers and restores sovereignty to the US. In response to the signing,

NFU President Roger Johnson urged Congress to demand the administration make changes to the deal before ratifying it: "For decades, family farmers and ranchers have taken a backseat to corporate interests in international trade negotiations. If allowed to take effect without changes, USMCA will continue this trend.

"President Trump campaigned against the major flaws in international trade agreements that the original NAFTA created the framework for, and rightly so. It is this framework that has led to our annual $500 billion trade deficit, exported jobs, lowered wages, and lost sovereignty. NAFTA renegotiation is a key opportunity to create a trade framework for our future.

"The reworked agreement makes improvements to eradicate ISDS—the dispute settlement system that gives corporations an unwarranted advantage over citizens—yet the agreement maintains ISDS provisions for some oil and gas companies. And while this is the first US trade pact to include rules on currency manipulation, these rules lack the teeth they need to be effective. As of right now, only the transparency requirements are binding.

"Finally, the USMCA ignores the sovereignty Americans have lost as part of NAFTA, particularly with respect to food labeling. Canada, Mexico, and multinational meatpackers pressured Congress—using NAFTA provisions—to scrap the commonsense Country-of-Origin Labeling for beef and pork that American consumers and producers benefitted from. These labels should be allowed under a new USMCA.

"It is Congress’s constitutional duty to regulate international trade, including implementation of trade agreements that benefit US citizens. NFU urges Congress to ensure the administration negotiates improvements to USMCA to create a fair trade framework that benefits family farmers, ranchers and rural communities."


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