Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement today regarding the final Senate passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“We are deeply disappointed that the U.S. Senate has ignored the interests of United States cattle farmers and ranchers by voting to extend the 25-year-old NAFTA agreement (North American Free Trade Agreement) under its new name, the USMCA.
“The USMCA makes no changes at all for the largest sector of American agriculture, the U.S. cattle industry. Importers of beef and cattle will continue to have 30% more inventories of cattle from which to source cheaper, undifferentiated cattle and beef and U.S. cattle producers are left without any ability to distinguish their superior product with a mandatory country-of-origin label. This means United States consumers will not be able to choose to support United States cattle farmers and ranchers.
“The combination of cattle and beef is the leading agricultural import from Canada and Mexico. We sell those countries less than $2 billion in cattle and beef each year and turn around and buy over $4 billion of the very same products.
“This persistent trade deficit has caused our U.S. cattle industry to shrink over the past 25 years. We now have fewer cattle producers, cattle, auction yards, feedlots and meatpackers with which to start this new USMCA era. That means our industry now lacks the critical mass of competitive infrastructure it had when we entered NAFTA more than two decades ago.
“Because our industry now lacks the critical mass of competitive infrastructure to withstand the shock of the new USMCA, we should expect our industry to continue its contraction.
“We will now go to Congress to seek out members who share our concern that U.S. cattle producers have been rendered non-competitive under the USMCA because they have no means to distinguish their exclusively USA-produced beef from the cheaper, undifferentiated substitutes that will continue flooding our markets.”
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the United States cattle industry. Visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516 for more information.