Oct 01 2018
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture – today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the recently announced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Click Here to Watch Remarks on Senate Floor
“This agreement ought to inspire confidence in our purchasers in Mexico and Canada, as well as around the world, that America will continue to be a reliable supplier of food and agricultural commodities,” said Sen. Moran. “Under the new agreement, all agricultural commodities that currently have duty-free access under NAFTA will continue. In addition, U.S. dairy producers who’ve had a long, difficult time with Canada’s supply management system will enjoy greater market access to the Canadian market.”
Sen. Moran’s Remarks As Delivered:
“Mr. President, thank you very much.
“I come to the floor this evening, this afternoon, to speak about a development, an announcement that occurred last night that an agreement had been reached to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new agreement – named the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or “USMCA” – will bring this trade pact between our countries into the 21st century.
“Over the last year and a half, I’ve been working with my colleagues and others in the administration to make clear to President Trump, to Ambassador Lighthizer, to Secretary Ross and to my Senate colleagues of the importance of trade and exports – whether that was in meetings with the president and his cabinet officials, through my subcommittee chairmanship, through speeches here on the Senate floor, or with many of my constituents in Kansas whose livelihoods depend on trade.
“I have written numerous letters to the U.S. agricultural leaders and various agricultural organizations, followed up by speaking engagements across the country at annual meetings of national farm and ranch groups to rally producers to fight to preserve trade relationships with Canada and Mexico. I’ve spent a lot of time in Kansas at nearly 100 townhall meetings in the last two years, attended by various ag and commodity groups. I’ve talked to local media, where folks are particularly interested at home about the issue of NAFTA and trade.
“In each of these instances, I was clear that withdrawing from NAFTA without a replacement agreement would be devastating to the Kansas economy. While NAFTA modernization was due to reflect changes in the economy since its enactment almost 25 years ago, the agreement has been critical to growth in agricultural exports and has created countless manufacturing jobs in my state. Canada and Mexico are two export markets as a result of NAFTA that account for approximately 39 percent of all total exports from Kansas. We, as Kansans, sell more aerospace parts and products to Canada than anywhere in the world, and more food and commodities to Mexico than anywhere in the world.
“Importantly, the new agreement includes all three countries. As I conveyed to the president when the bilateral U.S.-Mexico agreement was announced, a final deal without Canada would be a significant step backward from the agreement in place today.
“I applaud President Trump for taking these concerns seriously and, while engaging in tough negotiations, recognizing the benefit of all three nations being included in the final agreement.
The road ahead for this new agreement will not be easy. I am carefully reviewing the agreement’s details and look forward to additional economic analysis on its impact that it would have, particularly in Kansas, but on farmers, ranchers and manufacturers across our country. And equally of importance, the impact upon their employees.
“Once the president signs the agreement, it will be up to Congress to consider and vote to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, most likely next year. However, today, farmers and ranchers are breathing a sigh of relief as the announcement brings greater certainty at a time when producers are facing extended periods of low commodity prices. Agricultural conditions in our state due to drought, due to commodity prices, and the uncertainty of export markets is really a significant challenge. Simply put, we produce more in this country than we can consume.
“Farmers, agricultural leaders and commodity groups have spent their own time and money in developing export markets. We have many check-off programs designed to encourage the sale of agriculture commodities in Kansas and the United States around the globe. And, over a span of years, and sometimes even decades, U.S. producers have built relationships with customers around the world based upon our ability to consistently deliver high-quality commodities at competitive prices.
“This agreement ought to inspire confidence in our purchasers in Mexico and Canada, as well as around the world, that America will continue to be a reliable supplier of food and agricultural commodities. Under the new agreement, all agricultural commodities that currently have duty-free access under NAFTA will continue. In addition, U.S. dairy producers who’ve had a long, difficult time with Canada’s supply management system will enjoy greater market access to the Canadian market.
“A trilateral agreement is also critical for aerospace, auto, and other manufacturers in Kansas who rely upon an integrated North American supply chain. Withdrawing from NAFTA or excluding Canada from the agreement would have disrupted markets and cost Kansas jobs.
“I am hopeful that negotiations continue with Canada and Mexico to resolve the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs that have raised prices for Kansas manufacturers and their customers, as well as resulted in retaliation against U.S. producers, including pork producers in Kansas.
“While I come to the floor to commend an agreement being reached on modernizing NAFTA, we have a lot of work to do to resolve current trade disputes while building new export markets. The trade dispute with China has harmed farmers and ranchers when they can least afford it. Producers have faced low prices and declining income for the better part of a decade.
I remain concerned that if we lose major export markets, we will see a prolonged downturn in prices instead of a recovery that is so desperately needed and desired.
“Since the start of the trade dispute with China, soybean prices have fallen over $2 per bushel, which equates to Kansas farmers and grain handlers losing out on $378 million of possible revenues, solely on soybeans. Kansas is the top grain sorghum producing state in the nation – about half of the sorghum produced in the country is exported, with about 90 percent of that export previously going to China. It is estimated that the decline in sorghum prices due to China’s tariffs will result in about $87 of lost revenue per acre planted in Kansas.
“I have held two hearings to review the administration’s trade policies in the Appropriations Subcommittee I chair – Commerce, Justice, Science – including a hearing with Ambassador Lighthizer. These hearings offered me the opportunity to express directly to the administration the importance of trade, and for me to express the importance of trade to Kansas, and I look forward to continuing to engage as chairman of the CJS Subcommittee on the analysis and consideration of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and other trade issues.
“The ability of Kansans to make a living depends on the opportunity to sell what we grow and produce – what we manufacture around the world – and I will continue to urge in the direction of more trade, not less. I will also keep working to meet with farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, commodity groups, agricultural leaders and organizations to make certain their voices are heard, and I will continue to be a component in the ongoing work to promote free and fair trade.
“I end my remarks by noting my appreciation to the administration officials for working to make certain these markets remain available to Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, providing them with some much-needed certainty. I will further analyze the details of this agreement, but I’m pleased to say today’s announcement, last night’s announcement, is clearly, clearly a positive development, and I thank the administration for their pursuit of a better NAFTA agreement and a conclusion that includes all three countries.”
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