Chinese Trade Visit Overshadows USMCA Push

Seven former secretaries of agriculture and the current USDA head raise united voices for the passage of the U.S. Mexico Canada agreement, but negotiations with China overshadow the push.

Former Ag Secretary, Tom Vilsack, says farmers are unlikely to see a price impact based on the ratifying USMCA. But while former secretaries encourage Congress to move ahead, trade watchers are focused on U.S.-China negotiations going on in Washington. The current head of the department, Secretary Sonny Perdue, says he’s optimistic more ag purchases might be part of the talks.

Though Perdue, not certain purchase are on the table, he pointed to the effects of African Swine Fever as a driver for more pork, among other products. Perdue also confirmed that after talks conclude, Chinese negotiators will visit farms, which CNBC reports will be near Bozeman, Montana, and Omaha, Nebraska. The delegation will be led by China’s Vice Minister Of Agriculture and will include face to face meetings with farmers who have been impacted by the trade war.

“I think they want to see the production of agriculture I think they’re trying to build goodwill and we welcome that.”

Perdue says the farm tours will be carried out not by the USDA, but through the offices of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the U.S.'s lead negotiators. All the secretaries Thursday were hopeful that ongoing talks with China will build momentum towards a broader trade resolution.

Report By: Sarah Mock