USMCA Passage Crucial for Nebraska’s Beef Producers
Nebraska’s cattle industry has weathered its fair share of storms this past year. Crippling property taxes, uncertainty in key foreign markets, and devastating spring blizzards and historic floods have rocked our state’s livestock producers.
Fortunately, a solution on trade volatility is in sight. Congress must step up and ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which brings the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into the 21st century while ensuring open markets and science-based trade for beef trade.
Nebraska leads the nation in commercial red meat production, and Canada and Mexico are two of our largest export markets. In 2018, Nebraska exported over $250 million worth of beef to both countries. If access to these top markets were suddenly shut off, our red meat production would drastically decline. This would pose serious consequences for Nebraska’s economy.
Additionally, we would lose the ability to maximize the value of each animal by selling cuts that are undesirable for American consumers. Foreign markets like Mexico allow Nebraska’s beef producers to earn a premium for products like tripe, tongue, and heart.
Nebraska’s beef producers are fortunate, as our federal delegation in Congress understands that ratifying USMCA is critical to our state’s livestock industry. They now need the support of all Nebraskans, as every resident benefits from the $13.8 billion total economic impact that cattle production brings to our state.
Lawmakers to the north and south have begun the process of ratification. Mexico passed a series of much-needed labor law reforms that were a condition of USMCA. Canada has also taken steps to introduce the USMCA in Parliament. Yet here at home, we are still waiting on Congress to signal that it is ready to take action.
If the delays continue, the chance to pass USMCA this year will be lost. The Canadian Parliament is set to adjourn soon, and a federal election is scheduled for the fall. In the U.S., the 2020 election season is already heating up – and will make major legislative action unlikely in the months ahead.
Tell your friends and family in other states to urge their federal delegations to support U.S. beef. Nebraska Cattlemen is also doing its part. We recently sent a letter to U.S. House and Senate leaders urging swift support and ratification of USMCA. This letter was signed by 39 state affiliates of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Jeopardizing unrestricted, duty-free access to markets in Canada and Mexico is simply not an option for us. Congress must quit stalling and do what the voters elected them to do. It’s time to get USMCA across the finish line.
Written by: Mike Drinnin, President, Nebraska Cattlemen