Secretaries push passage of USMCA

Sep 20, 2019  | 2 min  | Ep4505

There was another campaign this week to get some trade momentum going. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says the bill could pass but House Democrats remain concerned about the enforcement of labor and environmental laws.

Peter Tubbs has more. Producer contact

Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture: “Agriculture in this place, in this city, is the probably the least partisan issue that anyone can talk about.”

Thursday, four former Secretaries of Agriculture spoke in support of passage of the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement, or USMCA. The update of the North American Free – Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, has been waiting for a vote in Congress since late 2018.

John Block, Dan Glickman and Tom Vilsack joined current Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to endorse the new trade pact.

Dan Glickman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Clinton Administration, 1995-2001: “That uncertainty would be much worse if we didn’t get a trade agreement with our partners, our neighbors, Mexico and Canada. After all, if we can’t work out with them, we can’t work out with anybody. Then farmers face really serious problems and anxieties.”

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Obama Administration, 2009-2017: “Thirty percent of what’s grown, raised, harvested this year and every year from America’s farmers, ranchers and producers ultimately ends up in an export market. Not only does it help support farm income, a number of good-paying jobs.”

The elimination of Canada’s Class 7 dairy classification was singled out as a victory for American dairy producers. The U.S. had charged that the Class 7 classification had kept American dairy protein and powdered milk solids out of the Canadian market, depressing the global price for those products.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Obama Administration, 2009-2017: “So for U.S. dairy, we know from the ITC report that this is about $300 million dollars in additional business opportunity that can be created through the ratification and implementation of USMCA.”


Seven former Secretaries signed a letter in support of passage of the USMCA. Representing the last six Presidential administrations, and from both sides of the political aisle, the Secretaries argued that the USMCA is an improvement over NAFTA, and passage would give momentum to negotiators working on other pending trade agreements.

John Block, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Reagan Administration, 1981-1986: “The secretaries of Agriculture, both parties, are standing shoulder to shoulder, saying to the Congress, go ahead and pass this legislation. Because that’s the first step, that’s the first step, get that done.”

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs

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