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Ag Secretaries Unite to Urge Ratification of USMCA

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Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Dan Glickman, and John Block-USDA photo by Tom Witham

All of the living U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture agree. They want the U.S. Congress to ratify the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement, and they have all signed a letter to leaders in Congress expressing their support for USMCA.

Three former secretaries were with current secretary Sonny Perdue at USDA Thursday to voice their support. Dan Glickman and John Block accompanied immediate past secretary in the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack, who asked two questions.

“One is, is this enforceable, and I think there is a good faith effort being done by the Administration and Congress to make sure and reassure people that this is an enforceable agreement,” Vilsack said. “Secondly, is this a better deal than the current deal? I think under any evaluation, from the U.S. agriculture perspective it is clearly is a better deal. So, with that our hope is that it gets done, and gets done soon.”

John Block served under Ronald Reagan and noted the bipartisan push.

“The Secretaries of Agriculture, both parties, are standing shoulder to shoulder saying to the Congress, go ahead and pass this legislation, because that’s the first step,” he said. “Get that done, and then maybe we’ll have some momentum to move forward on this trade agreement with Japan. Maybe, I can hope and wish, maybe momentum to move ahead with China and start rapping out these deals.”

Dan Glickman served in the Clinton White House. He said the absence of certain trade deals is fueling uncertainty in rural America.

“That uncertainty would be much worse if we didn’t get a trade agreement with our partners, our neighbors, Mexico and Canada,” Glickman said. “Afterall, if we can’t work out with them then we can’t work out with anybody, and then farmers really face very serious problems and anxieties in terms of trying to sell their products to the world.”

Secretary Block had a typical John Block final thought, straight to the point.

“My final word is get it passed!” he said.

Other secretaries signing the letter are Mike Espy (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), and Ed Shafer (W. Bush), saying, “We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products. USMCA will provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy. We strongly support ratification of USMCA.” The full letter is here.

Current Secretary Perdue added, “Support for USMCA crosses all political parties, specifically when it comes to the agriculture community, and I am proud to stand side by side with former agriculture secretaries who agree USMCA is good news for American farmers. I commend President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer, for their perseverance, leadership, and hard work to get USMCA across the finish line.”