Farmers and legislators come together to support new USMCA trade deal

Congressman Jim Baird and Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director met with farmers to talk about USMCA.

Posted: Apr 17, 2019 6:09 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2019 6:18 PM

ROMNEY, Ind. (WLFI) - Indiana Congressman Jim Baird (R)- District 4 visited Romney on Wednesday to promote the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement, also known as USMCA.

This is President Donald Trump's proposed replacement to the North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA. You may remember that Vice President Mike Pence visited Lebanon a few weeks ago also to promote the new deal.

Wednesday's event was held at the Boiler Grain Facility by the Farmers for Free Trade organization. According to its website, it is a non-profit dedicated to informing the public about the benefits of free trade and mobilizing farmers to take action. The organization is traveling 3,500 miles across the Midwest in a bus promoting USMCA. The Motorcade for Trade bus started its journey in Pennsylvania on April 12th and will conclude its tour in Montana on April 26th.

"I've had agriculture as a part of my life really my whole life," said Brent Bible, who is a partner with Stillwater Farms. Boiler Grain Facility is one of his facilities.

"My partner and I have been farming together for about 10 years now," he said. "We farm in Tippecanoe, Montgomery and Clinton Counties, primarily producing corn and soybeans."

He is a farmer who is voicing his support for USMCA.

"Free and fair trade are vital and important for the Ag industry," he said. Farmers, legislators and state leaders came together in Romney to get on the same page.

Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Bruce Kettler attended the event. He said USMCA brings key modernization to NAFTA, which has been in place since 1994. He said that it will benefit Hoosier farmers.

"When you look at Canada and Mexico, they are really our number one and number three trading partners out of Indiana, so we do export a lot of products," he said.

"In the United States, we can produce more agricultural products than we can ever consume," said Bible, who said that his farms provide its products to larger companies who then distribute the goods internationally. "We have to have an export market to move that product out."

Indiana District 4 Congressman Jim Baird also made an appearance at the event. He agrees that Indiana needs a trade deal like USMCA.

"In a rural community, agriculture provides a real foundation and it helps those communities to stay solid," he said. "Then you can build on that. I don't care if you are talking about economic development or other issues, but if you have a solid agricultural base, then you have something to build on."

Congress still has to ratify USMCA, and it's unclear when that might happen. Bible said he is concerned it won't be passed due to political differences. He added that he can already see the negative impacts of not having a trade agreement in his business.

"We've seen a lot of price instability," he said. "Specifically for our corn and soybean prices, we've seen those move up and down drastically, mostly down and it's been because there is a lack of an agreement."

He said he wants the agreement to make sure governments don't hurt trade between the three countries.

"It's important for Hoosier farmers to have good trade agreements in place, not because we want government to subsidize the Ag industry, but we want government to remove barriers and allow us to freely trade."

He said the other countries have put up retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. have that hurt their business and that he believes USMCA does remove those barriers.

"With a ratification by Congress, we will see these trade barriers come down," he said. "That's why it's so important. It provides for us the opportunity to remove those trading barriers and get back to business as usual."

Kettler wants others in support to spread the word and share their stories.

"I'm encouraging farmers to continue to talk to our congressional delegations and share their stories about why this passage is important," he said. "I've yet to meet a farmer not for the new agreement."

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