Perdue Addresses USMCA Frustrations

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addresses frustrations and urges support for the USMCA.

Though the current USMCA deal won’t address Florida and Georgia tomato grower concerns about dumping by Mexico, Perdue, says the agreement is still a step forward.

“Obviously it was on the table with Ambassador Lighthizer until the very end, but the seasonality issue was not able to get across the finish line, but we didn’t go backwards on that either, it wasn’t in the original NAFTA, and it wasn’t in this on either.”

Perdue says USMCA is a better deal on several fronts and warned that as the process drags on, the risks of not passing the deal grow.

“All it’s going to take is for one of the Presidential wannabes to say, this USMCA is a bad deal and we’ll see the herd start moving that and making it very difficult for some on the other side to Vote to ratify that.”

As farm-state lawmakers and industry continue to push for USMCA’s passage, the administration is looking ahead to restarting talks with Chinese officials this week, and Perdue says he’ll push for ag purchases to continue to be part of talks. Soybean and pork purchases are a priority, but not the only ones, Perdue says.

“There are a lot of other things, including ethanol and DDGs that would really help our ag economy. They’re trying to have better air quality over there and ethanol can help that.”

But Perdue says the administration will stand firm on their demands for broader changes in the china-us trade relationship, and won’t be distracted by farm purchases.

“We’ve given them targets before and they’re on the table, we know what their capacities are and what they could import and those are under negotiations right now, and they have to be willing to do that right now in a way that has been beneficial. We also have to be careful to not be bought off by purchase quantities without structural reforms over some non-tariff issues that have been existing that have been part of the negotiations.”

As Chinese officials arrived in Washington on Wednesday, lawmakers hoping for movement on the USMCA say talks to resolve differences between Democrats and White House negotiators are moving forward.

After visiting a range of bipartisan congressional districts this summer the secretary says he believes the USMCA will pass.

Report by: Sarah Mock