After abolishing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in late 2018, US President Donald Trump proposed the USMCA as a replacement. At the G-20 Summit last December, the three country leaders signed the initial USMCA draft.
A full year later, a majority of the US House voted in favor of the deal on Thursday. It was a bipartisan vote of 385-41. In early 2020, it will be put to a vote by the Senate, and may then be signed into law by Trump.
USMCA talks ramped up this month in the dairy industry. President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), Jim Mulhern, said, “USMCA will expand trade opportunities with our most valuable partners and secure immediate benefits for our rural communities, adding an estimated $548m to dairy-farm revenues in its first six years after implementation.”
Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council, said, "Washington has worked hard to make USMCA an even better deal for America's dairy farmers and exporters; now we are counting on Congress to move expeditiously to pass USMCA and usher in its significant improvements to trade rules.”
The USDA said all food and agricultural products that had zero tariffs under NAFTA will remain at zero tariffs. The USMCA will also create new market access opportunities for US exports to Canada of dairy, poultry and eggs, and in exchange the US will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and sugar products.
After the House passed USMCA, US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said, “I’ve long said that support for USMCA crosses political parties, the bipartisan passage of the agreement today is proof of that. I am pleased the House finally brought this agreement to a vote and encourage quick passage in the Senate.
“President Trump delivered on his promise to replace NAFTA and USMCA is a huge success for America’s farmers and ranchers. This agreement will unleash the bounty of America’s agricultural harvest to two of our largest trading partners in the world and it is critical to the success of rural America.”
John Rettler, president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, said, “This trade agreement is important for US trade, most particularly dairy. It is no secret that this trade agreement addressed several trade issues that have been concerning for US dairy farmers, most notably the class 7 pricing issue and limited market access. Today’s passage of the USMCA in the House is a great step forward for all three countries. It is great to share some good news for dairy farmers.”
Brody Stapel, president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, said, “This is a good day, for sure. USMCA will secure two of our country’s top dairy export markets while also ensuring strong export opportunities for other agricultural commodities.
“USMCA will maintain tariff-free access into Mexico, our number one dairy export market, and allow for additional market access into Canada while requiring the country to eliminate its unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing.”