When President Trump was elected, he promised to fight for American workers by putting into place strong, fair trade deals. He has worked hard to deliver on that promise. Like many South Dakotans, I support the president’s goal of strengthening our trade deals to make certain we are on a level playing field. South Dakota’s producers and manufacturers can compete with anyone in the world given a fair opportunity.
Trade has become such a hot topic in our state because of our large agriculture industry, which has suffered due to the ongoing trade disputes. We also have a manufacturing industry that has been hit hard by trade instability. Our manufacturers, farmers and ranchers continue to be at the tip of the spear in trade negotiations, and we must work quickly to finalize these deals.
One important deal that is ready for action is the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which the president signed last year to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Mexican government ratified the agreement this year, and Canada has repeatedly shown support for it. Now it’s time for Congress to vote to ratify the agreement, but it is currently awaiting action in the House of Representatives. I urge Speaker Pelosi to take a vote on the USMCA, which is supported by a majority of Americans. Supporting farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, small businesses and other industries in every state across the country is not a partisan issue. We should all want these businesses to succeed.
Canada and Mexico are South Dakota’s top two trading partners. Trade with the two countries supports 37,700 jobs in South Dakota and we exported $1.1 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico in 2017. Increasing trade with our North American neighbors and other global allies is extremely important, especially at a time of economic downturn in the agricultural sector and trade uncertainty in markets around the world. Once implemented, it is estimated the USMCA will boost the U.S. economy by $68 billion and add nearly 200,000 new jobs. It is time for Congress to take action and at the same time urge the administration to quickly finalize other trade deals for our ag community.
To help alleviate some of the pain producers are feeling due to ongoing trade disputes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a new round of financial assistance for farmers called the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). Details of the MFP were just announced. $16 billion has been authorized to provide support to American ag producers who have been disproportionately impacted while the administration works to finalize free and fair trade deals. More information on the MFP, including how to apply for assistance, can be found on my website, www.rounds.senate.gov.
While trade assistance helps, what South Dakotans really want is access to markets to sell their products. The USMCA is a step toward improving trade for our producers. We must act to ratify the USMCA so South Dakota producers and manufacturers can have access to lucrative markets in our neighboring countries and our economy can continue to soar.