KIMT NEWS 3 - Farmers have been financially strapped for months now, but there could be some light at the end of the tunne.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement took effect Wednesday. The deal opens up additional markets for American food and agricultural products, improve transparency, reduce trade distorting policies, eliminating two Canadian milk classes that allowed low priced dairy ingredients to undersell U.S. dairy sales in Canada, to name a few.
"It is an improvement over the old NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)."
Minnesota Senator Tina Smith expects the act to provide much-needed trade uncertainty for Minnesota farmers, businesses and consumers.
"It's been a really, really tough road to hoe for the last several years, and the COVID emergency has really hit agriculture hard from the food processing side to the production side. This is a bit of good news. While no trade deal is perfect, this trade deal is really moving us forward."
Senator Smith says she will push the Trump administration to monitor dairy provisions in the agreement to ensure Canada follows through.
"I think especially about the dairy farmers that have had such a hard time. Knowing that we are taking steps towards opening up Canadian markets to dairy products and stopping some of these unfair barriers that have existed for American dairy products in Canada is a good thing."
Senator Smith has had conversations with negotiators and the Secretary of the Treasury to ensure that farmers would be protected. In addition, there are plans to strengthen and create other deals.
"We continue to have issues negotiating with China, and we need to make sure the things that got negotiated last year really happening. For example, China agreed to make massive purchases of agricultural products, and they're already backing away from that, so we have to pursue that."
Also included in the deal are protections for workers; for example, Mexican workers must be paid a fair wage, as well as clarifying the percentage of what exactly is American made in a product, and also strips out anti-competitive provisions in order to lower prescription drug prices.