( File photo )

Almost 1,000 agriculture groups and companies are urging Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, including dozens of specialty crop groups.

More than 960 groups are listed on a letter sent June 11 to key legislators that states the agreement “will benefit the U.S. agriculture and food industry while providing consumers a more abundant supply of high-quality, safe food at affordable prices.”

The letter praises the USMCA’s predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, attacked by President Donald Trump as the “worst trade deal ever made.”

Through NAFTA, food and agriculture exports to Canada and Mexico grew from $9 billion in 1993 to nearly $40 billion in 2018, according to the letter.

The U.S. apple industry is one of the beneficiaries of NAFTA, and the USMCA, if ratified, U.S. Apple Association President and CEO Jim Bair said in a news release. Bair is a member of a steering committee of CEOs leading the grassroots efforts in support of the USMCA, according to the release.

The national apple association, along with groups representing growers in New York, California, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest, signed the letter.

“Mexico and Canada are top export markets for apples, totaling nearly a half-billion dollars in annual sales,” Bair said in the release. “The (USMCA) is good for apples as it maintains duty-free access and other important provisions from  (NAFTA), including dispute resolution. Apples were a big winner under NAFTA, which quadrupled exports to Mexico and doubled those to Canada.”

Western Growers, which represents growers in California and Arizona, on June 10 responded to the administration’s decision to hold off on escalating tariffs on imports from Mexico as a reaction to iillegal immigration concerns.

“Like NAFTA before it, the USMCA maintains zero-tariff treatment for all produce, a provision that led to the tripling of U.S. exports to Mexico over the past 25 years,” Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif said in the release. “Additionally, the USMCA contains favorable terms that will advance science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures and strengthen Mexico’s labor standards.

“With the threat of tariffs no longer standing in the way, as well as other early obstacles that have now been removed, the onus is on Congress to pass the USMCA, which we urge with the greatest expediency,” Nassif said in the release.

In a June 12 news release, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas President Lance Jungmeyer said the USMCA builds on the success of NAFTA.

“Ratifying the USMCA is an important step in creating stability for the U.S. companies involved in trade,” Jungmeyer said in the release. “This translates into increased jobs, economic growth, and direct consumer benefits as well.” 

A recent report from the International Trade Commission showed that the USMCA will improve market access for U.S. farmers, according to the FPAA release.

Other groups that signed the June 11 letter include:

  • United Fresh Produce Association
  • Produce Marketing Association
  • National Onion Association
  • National Potato Council, the Washington State Potato Commission and United Potato Growers of America
  • United fresh
  • PMA
  • North American Blueberry Council
  • Produce Coalition for USMCA
  • Mission Produce
  • JV Smith Cos.
  • Driscoll’s
  • California organizations representing growers of blueberries, cherry exports, dates, dried plums, figs, pears, strawberries and walnuts

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