America’s farmers and ranchers are in a bind, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lot of nerve asking Nebraskans to write her checks while she’s holding agriculture hostage.
This weekend, Pelosi, the nation’s most powerful Democrat and the only person standing between Nebraskans and the certainty that comes with trade, headlined a political fundraiser in Omaha while stonewalling the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Congress. Nebraska farmers and ranchers are ready to feed the world, but thanks to naked partisanship in Washington, we’re losing trade markets.
The USMCA deal, struck late last year, would help Nebraska agriculture. This is a free-trade win for farmers and ranchers that would provide secure market access, favorable trading terms and long-term stability. It would reinvigorate trade relationships with our friends while protecting against foul play by our adversaries, such as China. The only hang-up is that Pelosi needs to bring the trade deal to the House floor for a vote.
Time is running out. If Pelosi doesn’t cut the politics and schedule a vote before the end of the year, farmers and ranchers will face 2020 with more confusion and uncertainty. This strain is bad news for Nebraska and two of our most important trading partners.
Nebraska wins with trade to Canada and Mexico. The USMCA would help to keep America’s agricultural sector strong by bolstering these partnerships in ways that make sense for an economy that has changed since the early 1990s. Mexico and Canada are the top markets for American agricultural exports — more than $40 billion in 2018, up from $8 billion in 1993, the year before NAFTA went into effect. Nebraska producers benefited enormously from that long-standing agreement. Now, the USMCA is expected to increase total U.S. trade to Mexico and Canada by more than $33 billion, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. The USMCA also wisely follows NAFTA in making sure that agricultural duties remain low or, in most cases, nonexistent.
Pelosi isn’t doing her job. Congress is supposed to be the place where the American people deliberate about the big, long-term problems facing the country. Sadly, these days, angry partisans rage at the cameras on the empty floors of the House or in hallways crowded with Twitter-obsessed reporters. Pelosi would rather spend her time waging political war than getting this deal passed for farmers and ranchers. The Democrats’ clown show in the House shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for agriculture.
The USMCA is a good deal for American agriculture. It’s also a good steppingstone for future trade agreements. This deal shows we can protect our hardworking agricultural sector and will encourage the prosperity of our neighbors. That will bring more partners like Japan, the European Union and others to join us at the negotiating table. More mutually beneficial trading agreements with partners abroad will not only serve our economic interests, but will strengthen our position against countries such as China, whose exploitative trade practices are part of a larger campaign to undermine American influence worldwide.
Pelosi’s delay tactics threaten these gains. Farmers and ranchers need long-term certainty about who they will be able to sell to and under what terms. Right now, they don’t have it. Subsidies and bailouts cannot compensate for uncertain or permanently diminished market access. Likewise, the U.S. is sure to alienate potential trading partners if it looks like any country that involves itself with America is liable to end up hostage to short-term political maneuvering.
This should be above politics. Keeping our agricultural sector strong and secure should be a bipartisan concern. Our farmers and ranchers deserve better than to be pawns in Washington’s political games. Speaker Pelosi, cut the bull, bring USMCA up for a vote and let Nebraska agriculture grow again.