We currently have a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico; it is called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Without needed fixes, there is no reason to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

To gain National Farmers Union support for USMCA, Congress must re-establish country-of-origin labeling authority; strengthen labor, environment and enforcement provisions; rectify language giving prescription drug makers more profit-taking years; and strengthen anti-dumping protections for agricultural goods.

Some agriculture organizations are promoting ratification of the USMCA. They say this allows wheat delivery to Canada, but the Canadian wheat pool will only accept wheat grown from Canadian varieties.

Let’s focus on getting trade agreements with key Asian customers we lost when the U.S. pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). While our competitors export their products to Asian markets without tariffs, we have only renegotiated an agreement with Japan. It is basically TPP; however, tariff reductions are phased in for several years, leaving us at a competitive disadvantage.

While the USA continues to buy Chinese products, China is building ports elsewhere to wean itself from U.S. farm products. The trade deficit has grown. Family farmers were sacrificed so corporations could build their technology in China without sharing patents. I have a suggestion: Why don’t these corporations build their technology in countries that respect their patents and leave our markets alone?

In conclusion, since we have NAFTA with Mexico and Canada, let’s focus efforts where we have no agreements, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

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Walter Schweitzer is president of the Montana Farmers Union. 

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