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Senate easily passes USMCA

The United States Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement today by a vote of 89-10.

The free trade agreement now goes to President Trump to sign. It was a major priority from his presidential campaign and administration.

The House of Representatives passed the trade deal in December by a 385-41 vote.

The United Fresh Produce Association, BB #:145458 which has supported USMCA released the following statement:

United Fresh Produce Association strongly supports passage of the USMCA. Canada and Mexico are the two largest markets for fresh produce and their importance to American agriculture cannot be overstated.

With consumers demanding year-round availability of produce regardless of geographical growing seasons, exports and imports of fresh fruits and vegetables play a critical role in business viability of fresh produce providers. United Fresh has always supported free and fair trade globally, seeking to open markets to U.S. products while ensuring the same access for foreign products to the United States.”

While most of the fresh produce industry supported USMCA, some growers in the Southeast have been against parts of the free trade deal, saying they allow unfair competition.

Florida’s agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried said yesterday that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made formal commitments to protect American seasonal produce growers.

Her statement said:
“While discouraging that the USMCA and its implementing legislation lacked protections for our seasonal producers, I thank Ambassador Lighthizer for his formal commitments to address this urgent issue – marking a major turning point in the decades-long fight to provide fairness for Florida farmers. However, we know we are still far from the finish line. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and our congressional delegation members to make sure the Administration’s promises yield effective and timely results that put America first.”

If enacted without action from the Administration or Congress to protect America’s seasonal produce industry, the USMCA has been estimated to cost Florida farmers up to 8,000 lost jobs and $400 million in lost revenue. Florida is one of the top two U.S. states for production of seasonal produce including tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, blueberries, cucumbers and more, valued at well over $1 billion.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services