On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The committee heard from six witnesses, Paula Elaine Barnett, Etsy; the Honorable Matt Blunt, President of American Automotive Policy Council; James C. Collins, CEO of Corteva Agriscience; Derek J. Leathers, President and CEO of Werner Enterprises; the Honorable Tom Vilsack, President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council; and Michael Wessel, the President and Staff Chair of the Wessel Group. 

Chairman Grassley opened the hearing by explaining that “USMCA will set new benchmarks in many other areas, such as food safety and biotechnology standards, customs and trade facilitations, intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, labor and environment.”

Vilsack described the “difficult few years that dairy producers have endured from falling milk prices that reduced farm income and dairy processors that have seen carefully cultivated foreign sales threatened in key markets.” He also emphasized how “USMCA will lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over North American trade and adversely affecting U.S. farmers and exporters by safeguarding our valuable export market in Mexico and instituting improvements to trade with Canada.”

Additionally, Vilsack testified that the passage of USMCA will protect dairy manufacturers in the area of geographical indications. Without this protection, U.S. companies’ ability to use common names, such as parmesan and feta, would be at risk.

With Congress breaking for August recess, early fall is a viable window to get USMCA ratified. Last week, more than 40 farmers, ranchers, producers and growers representing various California food and agriculture products met with all 55 members of the California congressional delegation and their staffs to advocate to their members of Congress for swift passage of USMCA. IDFA, along with California Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and California Dairies, Inc., coordinated the advocacy day.

For more information, please contact Beth Hughes, IDFA’s senior director of international affairs.