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House passes USMCA by wide margin

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The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement passed in the House of Representatives December 19 with an overwhelming 385-41 vote.

The Senate now has to pass the legislation, but that’s not expected until early 2020, after the chamber handles the articles of impeachment the House passed on President Trump.

USMCA has been widely supported by the produce industry, and it has been a high priority of the Trump administration, after the president ran on repealing and improving NAFTA.

It has wide support from both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, although Sen. Pat Toomey, R-PA, wrote in a Wall Street Journal column that he would oppose it, saying it’s too protectionist and discourages free trade.

The United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 said passage of USMCA has been a major push this year.

“With today’s strong vote by the House, we encourage the Senate to move forward with consideration of USMCA,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh President and CEO. “For the fresh produce industry, this is a welcomed achievement as we continue to meet the demands from consumers for increased availability of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. Finally, we believe this new trade agreement will strengthen our partnership between the three countries and provide essential cooperation in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry.”

As a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico was being negotiated, United Fresh laid out four key goals that were supported by our volunteer leadership:
1. Pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will provide greater certainty for the fresh produce industry
2. Ensure that NAFTA will not be allowed to expire without a suitable replacement that protects markets that have been developed over the last 25 years
3. Find solutions that can enhance the competitiveness of U.S. growers without having unintended consequences that impact the flow of trade in North America
4. Pursue other trade agreements that can benefit the fresh produce industry and establish long-term certainty for businesses in our industry

Along with last week’s approval of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, this represents the second major legislative initiative in December the House has passed that has been supported by United Fresh.

Jim Bair, president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association, BB #:145473 also sent his support for the deal.

“The U.S. Apple Association applauds today’s House approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA), as Mexico and Canada represent our top two export markets, totaling nearly a half-billion dollars in annual sales. Growing apples is a risky business and locking in our largest markets adds certainty for the long haul. It lets U.S. growers get back to doing what they do best – producing superior quality apples in a volume and range of varieties not available anywhere else.

“Canada, Mexico and the United States combine to make up the most competitive and successful regional economic platform in the world. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the predecessor to USMCA, apple exports to Mexico quadrupled and those to Canada doubled.

“Throughout USMCA negotiations, USApple members carried out unprecedented advocacy efforts to help secure ratification of the agreement. Through media events, opinion editorials, community roundtables, Capitol Hill fly-ins and congressional meetings, apple growers and leaders joined the agriculture community in record numbers to help get it over the finish line. USApple looks forward to the Senate ratifying the agreement early in the coming year.”


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services