U.S. farm groups are concerned about the increasing agricultural trade troubles with Mexico and Canada despite the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and Biden administration officials are stressing that resolving those issues is a priority.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has already met with ag chiefs from both countries, said Monday he will take on those troubles together with newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
“There are implementation issues to make sure that those markets remain open and I’m glad to see we now have a confirmed U.S. Trade Representative,” Vilsack said Monday at Agri-Pulse’s annual Ag & Food Policy Summit. “I’ll work with Ambassador (Katherine) Tai to make sure that we focus on implementation of (the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement).”
To the north of the U.S., Canada continues to rile the U.S. dairy sector over its management of new USMCA quotas that were supposed to help the U.S. export more cheese and other high-value dairy products. But the U.S. government has been in consultations with the Canadian government for more than three months over allegations that Canada is misusing the quotas
The U.S. is accusing Canada of reserving 85% of the quotas for cheaper U.S. dairy products that do not compete with Canadian products. That, the U.S. says, severely limits U.S. exporters.
Tai met today with Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, according to the Office of the USTR. According to a readout from USTR, the two discussed USMCA and agreed “to pursue a USMCA Free Trade Commission meeting with their Mexican counterpart in the near future.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation and 26 other groups dispatched a letter this week to both Vilsack and Tai asking them to address what AFBF President Zippy Duvall calls “the rapidly deteriorating relationship” between the U.S. and Mexico.
Interested in more news on farm programs, trade and rural issues? Sign up for a four-week free trial to Agri-Pulse. You’ll receive our content - absolutely free - during the trial period.
The groups highlighted Mexico’s plan to ban glyphosate and biotech corn as well as the country’s proposal to require new testing for cheese imports that one dairy official warns could cost U.S. producers and exporters hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with.
Mexico, they said in the letter, “has created significant uncertainty for agricultural biotechnology, ceasing review and approval of any biotechnology applications since May 2018. As a result, Mexico has become a significant barrier to launching new biotechnology products within North America, potentially restricting U.S. farmer access to new technologies that will assist in addressing critical issues such as sustainability and climate change.”
Furthermore, the groups argue that the country “has undertaken a state-sponsored campaign of disparagement of corn sweeteners from the U.S. There is reason to believe that these actions were coordinated with Mexican sugar industry advertising to disparage U.S. corn sweeteners.”