By Rep. Darin LaHood
June 18, 2019
For the farmers that I represent in central and west-central Illinois, access to markets in Canada and Mexico is vital to their success.
When harvest comes and farmers take their products to market, they rely upon the open-market free-trade system with our neighbors to the north and south to remain competitive in the global economy.
Over the last 25 years, free trade with Mexico and Canada has supported over 900,000 jobs in the food and agricultural sector and quadrupled exports from $9 billion to almost $40 billion. In the heartland of America, we have some of the richest farmland in the world, and thanks to free trade, our farmers have been able to feed and fuel not only our country, but the world.
As we look ahead toward the next 25 years, updating our trade policies will enable our farmers and ranchers to continue leading the way in the agriculture economy. That is why President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer worked tirelessly to negotiate the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement, which builds upon the success our agricultural sector has seen through free trade with our neighbors.
Not only does USMCA maintain the duty-free access for American farmers to Mexico and Canada, it will deliver an additional $2.2 billion in economic activity. Passage of USMCA will also open the Canadian market for American dairy, wheat, chicken, egg, and turkey products. It will also increase real GDP by $68.2 billion and create 176,000 U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, helping manufacturers and small business, as well.
Getting USMCA done will strengthen our food and agricultural economy and give certainty to farmers, so they can make new investments to grow their operations.
I often remind my friends in Chicago and in Washington, that in Illinois, agriculture is our number one industry in terms of economic impact. It’s no secret that the agriculture community has endured a tough spring with low commodity prices, flooding, and ongoing trade disputes, but Congress can take a significant step by delivering certainty through passage of USMCA.
However, as things stand, USMCA is being held hostage by career politicians in Washington who are hell-bent on preventing President Trump from getting a win. A delay in approval of this agreement will hit the wallets of family farms in Illinois and across the country. The agriculture community is losing out because political gamesmanship is being placed in front of their interests.
There’s too much at stake for our farmers to let this opportunity pass by. USMCA will expand economic opportunity in the heartland. It will provide the framework for the next 25 years of free trade in North America. And it will ensure agriculture remains competitive in our ever-evolving global economy.
USMCA is a win for America, a win for the Midwest, a win for Illinois, and a win for the family farmer. Congress must come together and get this done. Delaying it further will only hurt American agriculture.
Rep. Darin LaHood represents Illinois’ 18th Congressional District and is a Republican member of the Ways and Means Committee.