A respectful and energetic atmosphere surrounded the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement in the White House on Wednesday as supporters celebrated the new and improved deal.
“What struck me today was seeing how USMCA touched almost every industry – from the automobile industry to tech companies to the entire barnyard,” says Scott Hays, a fifth-generation pig farmer and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) board member from Monroe City, Mo. “It seemed like almost every industry was excited. Lots of things have changed since the original agreement was put in place. It was obvious today that everyone felt like those changes were needed.”
Hays says President Trump did a great job of negotiating and getting the country a good deal – a deal that once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers.
“Our trading partners here in North America are very important to us,” Hays says.
For example, Mexico is the largest market by volume and second largest market by value for U.S. exports and Canada is the fifth largest by volume and fourth largest by value.
“In 2018, we exported $6.4 billion in pork and 40% of that went to Mexico and Canada combined. Getting this deal done will ensure that we maintain those markets and continue to have them as great partners and customers for the pork industry,” Hays adds. “It puts some certainty in the market.”
Of course, Hays says whenever you listen to President Trump, he always has a little fun with the crowd. Trump devoted time to discuss the Phase One deal with China and stressed that he is continuing to work for agriculture’s best interest.
“We would like to see China remove punitive tariffs (60% tariff) on U.S. pork,” Hays says. “We know there’s a shortage of pork in that country and we think we are in a position to provide a lot of product to them. With our record volumes of pork, we can help them out with their issue if they would just back off their tariffs so we could be more competitive getting product in there.”
Pork is the litmus test for measuring China’s progress toward U.S. agriculture purchase commitments, Hays says.
“It makes sense for them to buy a significant portion of pork because that is really what they are short right now,” he says.
In addition to Hays, NPPC president David Herring attended the signing ceremony along with six other NPPC board members: Dale Reicks (Iowa), Duane Stateler (Ohio), Lori Stevermer (Minnesota), Kraig Westerbeek (North Carolina), Terry Wolters (Minnesota) and Russell Vering (Nebraska).
“It’s been a long hard road to get this done,” Hays added. “I’ve made several trips out there lobbying Congress. It was fun to be there and get to see the final signature put on it after all the hard work.”
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