Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), testified today before the Senate Finance Committee and urged Congress to swiftly ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and usher in the benefits it promises to deliver to America’s dairy sector, as well as the wider food and agricultural community.
“NAFTA has paid tremendous dividends to America’s dairy industry by creating our top export market, Mexico, which consumed $1.4 billion in U.S. dairy exports last year. USMCA makes key improvements, such as new Canadian dairy market access and other upgrades, that will modernize NAFTA, boost returns to farmers and food manufacturers across the country and support the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that are reliant on North American food and agricultural trade,” he testified. “Looking ahead, USMCA also has the potential to serve as a catalyst that springboards our nation onto a productive trade agenda that delivers results for American agriculture and the American people.”
Vilsack, who served as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2009 to 2017, detailed how the trade pact will bring important benefits for dairy farmers and businesses.
In addition to locking in a zero-tariff relationship with Mexico and increasing market access to Canada, USMCA also reforms unfair pricing practices in Canada and addresses other nontariff barriers, like Geographic Indication requirements, that threaten U.S. sales. All told, USMCA will provide a $314 million-a-year boost to the dairy industry, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Vilsack has been a strong advocate for USMCA, having recently written an op-ed published in the Des Moines Register, in addition to his participation in events across the country in favor of the agreement.
“Speaker Pelosi and Ambassador Lighthizer are working closely together to address any outstanding concerns surrounding the implementation of USMCA,” he added. “I encourage the Senate to play a constructive role in these talks in order to produce a final agreement that can be quickly passed and signed.”
In June, USDEC and 34 of its members signed a letter alongside nearly 1,000 farm organizations and rural businesses asking Congress to approve USMCA.
The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe. See www.usdec.org.