How will new USMCA trade deal affect La. farmers?

Updated: Dec. 12, 2019 at 10:47 PM EST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Tuesday, Dec. 10, House Democrats agreed to finally back the new United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was originally signed by President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto more than a year ago.

“These trade deals are significant because what they do is they provide an opportunity for the U.S. to be price competitive in international markets,” said Michael Deliberto, a professor of agricultural economics at the LSU AgCenter

He says more than 50% of rice in the United States is produced and exported to Mexico. Much of that rice comes from Louisiana farmers.

“Michael, you think this is not only a big win for U.S. farmers, but farmers right here in Louisiana as well?” questioned WAFB’s Lester Duhé.

“Yes,” Deliberto replied.

Rice and other products from the U.S. will now have duty free access to both the Mexican and Canadian markets without tariffs in those countries.

“Canada is a buyer of milled rice. Canada by volume is typically in our top five. Mexico is our largest export customer for rice by volume as by value, and it’s been like that for a considerable amount of time,” said Deliberto.

A farmer from Erwinville, Donald Schexnayder, the owner of R Schexnayder & Sons, believes the new deal will keep domestic markets steady, firm, and open.

“It’s just going to one thing, continue the market that we have in Mexico. It’s a big deal with agriculture in our end anyway because we sell a lot of corn and soybeans to Mexico,” said Schexnayder.

The deal should give international buyers the opportunity to receive high quality products from the United States and those grown in Louisiana.

“What it does is either lets us increase our market share and let’s us become price competitive in those export markets,” said Deliberto.

The deal will also strengthen labor and environmental standards.

The Trump administration says the USMCA will result in freer markets and fairer trade as a whole.

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