When it comes to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USCMA), Under Secretary Ted McKinney calls it “a huge win,” especially for dairy.
McKinney, who serves as Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, addressed the audience at the Dairy Business Association’s Dairy Strong Conference held in Madison, Wis., last week. In his presentation focused on current trade situations around the world, he started with North America.
“I think one of the most important things we at USDA are and can and should be working on is the USMCA, or NAFTA 2.0 as some of your call it,” he shared.
McKinney said it was a long, arduous task, but he was pleased with the end results.
“The USTR (United States Trade Representative) really delivered for agriculture generally, and for the dairy industry in particular,” he said.
“We did get more market access for agriculture, with the majority of that being dairy,” McKinney explained. “That was hard fought. It was difficult to take our free enterprise system and work, particularly against Canada, which has the managed supply system.”
According to McKinney, a great deal of the negotiations specific to agriculture took place in the final weeks and months. He shared that the United States only learned of the Canadian specifics one day before President Trump’s deadline, and that is what led in part to the extension.
The Under Secretary noted that a lot of the extension time working on the USMCA was fighting for market access. “USDA and USTR did their part, and I hope we can look at USMCA up to this point as a successful venture,” he said.
Speaking specifically of dairy, McKinney remarked, “A wall or containment was placed around Canada, so it is truly a managed system and not one in which they can take the best of the dairy industry and then dump on the world markets that which is of less value.”
The deal is not final yet, as it now needs Congressional approval. McKinney encouraged dairy producers to speak to their representatives in Congress to get support for the agreement. “It’s going to take a full, heavy lift. It’s going to take all of us to make sure your views are known on the value of USMCA and its passage,” he said.
Still, McKinney is optimistic. “As for USMCA, I am checking the box with a pencil. Until we get it through Congress, only then can I use an ink pen,” he said. “What we have so far is pretty doggone good. We’re thrilled with what we got.”