Alabama’s agricultural and forestry producers and related industries have been resilient in the face of hurricanes, tornados, floods, and droughts that devastated our state in the last few months. In addition to weathering these natural disasters, farmers and foresters now find themselves literally waiting on an Act of Congress to stabilize trading relationships with Canada and Mexico. President Trump and his trade team negotiated the United States- Mexico- Canada Agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement which has been in place since 1993. Now, we need Congress to pass USMCA so that our economy can begin operating within a modern and balanced trade structure.
Alabama’s largest trading partner is Canada and our third largest trading partner is Mexico. Our North American neighbors are the ideal place for more of our products to go. Alabama currently benefits from $4.1 billion of exports to Canada and $2.6 billion to Mexico. Congressional approval of USMCA will create new markets in Canada and Mexico generating $450 million of growth for U.S. ag exports. Dairy, egg and poultry producers will see the largest growth opportunities while our other producers will continue to enjoy free trade with our neighbors.
USMCA is not just good for agriculture, it’s good for our entire state. USMCA provides new opportunities for our auto and manufacturing industries, protects intellectual property, and cuts red tape in the exporting process so that small business will be able to enter the growing markets. Our transportation companies and the Port of Mobile will benefit from all the new goods moving in commerce.
Why wouldn’t we want to update a trade policy that’s 25 years old? No business is operating on a 25-year-old business plan. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that USMCA will raise the U.S. GDP by $68.2 billion and increase U.S. employment by 176,000 jobs. Positive numbers like that translate into positive results for us.
I urge Congress to approve USMCA so that our farmers, workers, and businesses can quit worrying about Washington politics and begin reaping the benefits that increased economic opportunities will bring to our state.
Rick Pate is Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.