Cattle production provides considerable contributions to Iowa’s economy, generating $3.86 billion. However, there are many challenges in the agricultural economy at this time. In order to keep farmers and young people in rural Iowa, we must have strong export markets for our products.
That is why international trade is a top priority for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. As a whole, export markets add over $300 to the value of each head of cattle in Iowa, and Canada and Mexico are responsible for about $70 of that total.
Iowa’s 27,000 beef producers have enjoyed the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement over the past 25 years. NAFTA has provided duty-free trade with Canada and Mexico which adds gross value to the cattle that producers raise, feed and market in Iowa.
Mexico is especially important because of the demand for variety meats like tongue, tripe and heart. In the U.S., these cuts are nearly worthless. By exporting them, we are able to capture much greater value.
USMCA preserves the duty-free trade we have benefited from through NAFTA, and supports other agricultural commodities, as well. At a recent roundtable discussion, former Iowa Governor and Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, stated the importance of ratifying USMCA this year. “If we extend into 2020, (the agreement) gets mixed up in presidential and Congressional politics and makes it much, much less likely to get a vote in Congress.”
If the agreement is not approved, U.S. farmers risk losing $9.4 billion in total agricultural exports annually. Of that total, $1.8 billion comes from the cattle industry and $3.2 billion is from corn and corn co-products.
“We need to get USMCA to a vote and finalized as soon as possible. ICA members have been contacting their congressional delegates and asking for positive public support,” says Matt Deppe. “Any opportunity and certainty is important in today’s ag economy. Passing USMCA very soon and moving on to a bilateral agreement with Japan is vital to our industry.”
ICA will continue to advocate for full ratification of USMCA as soon as possible, in order to benefit Iowa’s cattle industry and the agriculture sector as a whole.