OKFB, ag leaders urge Congress to ratify USMCA
Contact: Hannah Davis
Oklahoma agricultural leaders including Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Rodd Moesel discussed the importance of ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers at an event on May 23 at the organization’s office in Oklahoma City.
The event was a stop along the Farmers for Free Trade coalition’s Motorcade For Trade, a movement across 11 states in support of the ratifying the USMCA.
The USMCA, which was agreed on between the three countries to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, is currently awaiting approval by Congress. The agreement allows trade to continue to Mexico with no tariffs and provides new market access of dairy and poultry products to Canada.
“We not only have moral reasons to open up these [international] markets but important financial reasons, as well,” Moesel said during the event. “A big contribution to our U.S. economy is agricultural exports.”
The trade negotiations have caused significant repercussions for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers that rely on international markets. Moesel said the price of many agricultural commodities is approximately 50 percent less compared to five years ago, while input costs and other expenses have remained the same or increased.
As an Alfalfa County wheat and cattle producer, Farm Bureau member Hope Pjesky said she is dependent on international trade, specifically with Mexico and Canada.
“Mexico is our No. 1 export market for wheat in the United States, and being from Oklahoma, we have an advantage over many other states because of our proximity to Mexico,” Pjesky said. “We are able to load entire trainloads of wheat from our local elevators and send them directly to Mexico.”
One of the top export markets for beef, Pjesky said a trading relationship with Mexico is also vital to Oklahoma beef producers.
Oklahoma Pork Council Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey shared the importance of trade to the state’s pork industry.
“Any time we have a disruption in trade, it causes great disruption in our markets,” Lindsey said. “It causes great pain for our producers.”
Lindsey said retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and Canada that were in place cost Oklahoma pork producers $12 per animal. With Mexico and Canada serving as two of the largest export markets for U.S. pork, Lindsey said the USMCA preserves a zero tariff on pork going into the two countries.
“We need all of our congressional delegation to help us with ratification of USMCA,” Lindsey said.
Sen. Casey Murdock, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee, said the USMCA needs to be ratified by Congress as soon as possible because it helps Oklahoma farmers.
“We (in agriculture) fight Mother Nature every day,” Murdock said. “We don’t need to fight our Congress on doing what’s right for agriculture in this country.”
The Farmers for Free Trade Motorcade for Trade tour is making stops across the country to highlight American farmers’ reliance on trade with Canada and Mexico. Oklahoma City marked the beginning of the southern leg of the tour. Next, the motorcade will travel to Texas, then New Mexico and Arizona and into California.