When will the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement finally go to a vote and get to the president for his signature, a scenario that agriculture lobbyists have been working hard to achieve? Andrew Walmsley Director of Congressional Relations at American Farm Bureau says although USMCA may seem to be in delay mode, the wait is just part of the process.
“The deal itself has been baked,” he told HAT. “It’s those side concessions, it’s the politics and getting everybody at the table that just takes a little time, and I think progress has been made. Last week we spearheaded a letter of nearly a thousand groups, a lot of voices wanting to see this done, so I just think it’s part of the process. We still have a window and I think there’s still optimism to get it done here in the next month or two or sometime over the summer. But it’s just a process.”
He hopes it happens before the August recess, but those who see the benefits for agriculture in USMCA are encouraged to continue to reach out to their representatives and be heard.
American Farm Bureau also continues to lobby that rural America is included in any kind of infrastructure bill, although a large, sweeping bill is unlikely.
“It’s going to be a heavy lift,” Walmsley said. “I’m not overly optimistic, particularly where negotiations are on a big infrastructure package, but there’s the possibility and I think every intention on the part of the appropriate committees in the House and Senate to do a surface transportation bill. Those are something we do every 4 to 5 years, and something we’ll work to make sure rural priorities are included and also trying to look for any regulatory relief for our haulers and drivers and agricultural producers out in the countryside.”
Walmsley said the challenge to get something done in Washington certainly centers around politics, but the other major hurdle is just finding the money. Farm Bureau joined with Farm Credit Council and others to develop the Rebuild Rural Coalition to highlight everything that impacts rural America and make sure those issues, rural roadways and bridges, healthcare, broadband, and rural water, are part of any discussion on infrastructure.
Walmsley was one of several from American Farm Bureau providing updates to those on the Indiana Farm Bureau Leader Trip in Washington D.C. this week, prior to their meetings with Indiana senators on congressional representatives.