I recently met with President Trump at the White House to work on trade issues, which are very important for farmers and ranchers as well as our manufacturers and everyone else who exports. Specifically, we discussed:
- A strategy to get the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement through both the U.S House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate;
- The importance of advancing trade negotiations with China and also trade negotiations that the administration is undertaking with Japan;
- Securing additional commodity sales to China while trade negotiations continue.
We need to advance these efforts not only to provide our agriculture and other industries with greater certainty, but ultimately to provide better access to foreign markets and maintain a strong economy.
The USMCA is extremely important to producers in North Dakota given that Canada and Mexico are our state’s two largest trading partners. The USMCA includes important provisions for farmers and ranchers, including the elimination of Canada’s automatic downgrade of imported U.S. wheat. Regardless of the crop’s quality or variety, Canada automatically downgrades imported U.S. wheat to feed-grade. I worked to ensure the USMCA prevents this unfair practice and helps make certain that grading standards and services are non-discriminatory.
In order to advance the USMCA in Congress, I’ve encouraged the administration to lift the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. Doing so would aid in the removal of Canada and Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs against U.S. agriculture producers, as well as help lower prices for farmers who rely on equipment made with steel, including everything from tractors to grain bins. At the same time, I believe this act would also help secure additional support in Congress for the USMCA.
Additionally, I continue to urge the administration to resolve trade negotiations with China as soon as possible. We need to address China’s unfair trade practices and provide better access to Chinese markets for our producers. That was made clear recently when the World Trade Organization ruled that China’s price supports for wheat and other grains are in violation of WTO rules. I fully supported the U.S. trade representative bringing this compliance case against China because our producers deserve the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.
I’ve also asked the administration to prioritize market access for U.S. potato growers. Access to the Chinese market for fresh potatoes would support significant economic growth for producers, and accordingly, this priority has been included on every bilateral agenda between the two nations since 2000. I’m also pushing to open up the Japanese market to U.S. beef exports.
While these trade talks are finalized, I’ve encouraged the administration – including the president, vice president, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue – to push for further commodity purchases like China’s recent commitment to buy an additional 10 million metric tons of soybeans.
Our farmers and ranchers are the best in the world, and can compete in any market when given a level playing field. That’s why as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Ag Committee, I’m committed to working with the administration to resolve trade negotiations as soon as possible and provide our producers with better access to foreign markets.