Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack on Tuesday shared why exports matter ahead of the Senate Finance Committee. Vilsack’s message to the committee was simple: “Exports matter to the American food and agriculture industry.”
“Thirty-percent of all agricultural products and 20-percent of all agricultural income is directly related to exports. It helps support $140 billion of activity, nearly a million good paying jobs,” Vilsack said.
Food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have increased five-fold, since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted in 1994. Both countries serve as top markets for many commodities, including poultry and wheat.
Vilsack speaks to the opportunities a ratified U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would provide to the United States dairy industry.
“For dairy, there are multiple benefits, not the least of which is an increase of agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico, amounting to over $300 million annually,” Vilsack said. “It preserves our duty-free access to our number one market, Mexico. It increases our access to the Canadian market, that has been limited for far too long, by increasing our trade quotas in cheese, skim milk powder, whey, butter and other dairy products.”
The ratified agreement would also remove trade distorting pricing policies, establish strong sanitary and phytosanitary provisions and improve safeguards surrounding companies’ rights to use common food names.
Vilsack says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement could set a precedent for other trade agreements, and believes it will benefit our country as a whole.
“According to Dunn & Associates, the U.S. food and agriculture industry represents 43 million employed Americans, which is 28-percent of our entire employment workforce,” Vilsack said. “(It) directly impacts 20-percent of the American economy. Whatever helps the U.S. food and agriculture industry helps the country.”