We welcome guest writers to all of our Todayville platforms. Here’s a submission from Emily Folk. Emily is passionate about agricultural sustainability and more of her work can be found on her site, Conservation Folks. In this story, Emily Folk explains the USMCA Impact on Agriculture.
What Could USMCA Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?
The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been in the news a lot lately. The leaders of the respective nations signed the trade agreement on November 30, 2019, and ratification is pending. You can think of the USMCA as an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate NAFTA after publicly speaking unfavourably about it. The USMCA is the result of that vow. The agreement spans several areas, such as the origin of automobile parts and new labor laws in Mexico that make it easier for workers to unionize. The USMCA also has a “sunset clause” that makes its terms expire after 16 years. Plus, every six years, the leaders of the countries involved must agree on whether to extend the deal.
Some agriculture-specific stipulations also exist within the USMCA. Additionally, the agreement notably mentions biotechnology. Here’s a closer look at how the USMCA might change these two industries.
More Exporting Opportunities for Farmers
One of the key points often mentioned about the USMCA is that parties expect the agreement to cause a $2 billion increase in U.S. agriculture exports, triggering a $65 billion rise in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Canada and Mexico are currently the top two exporting markets for American farmers, supporting more than 325,000 American jobs. In 2018, the food and agricultural exports destined for Canada and Mexico totaled more than $39.7 billion.
The USMCA also opens exporting opportunities that did not exist before. Now, U.S. dairy farmers will have expanded access to send products such as fluid and powdered milk, cheese and cream to Canadian parties. There will also no longer be U.S. tariffs on whey and margarine. This change is notable, considering the Canadian dairy market produced roughly 17% of the United States’ annual output over the past three years.
In exchange, Canada will give the United States new access to chicken and eggs, plus increased access to turkey. Plus, all other agriculture products traded between the U.S. and Mexico will be under a zero-tariff model.
Moving Forward With Agricultural Biotechnology
Another improvement associated with the USMCA is that it looks at agricultural technology more broadly than other trade agreements have.
For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a proposed trade agreement between 12 nations — only addressed biotechnology regarding recombinant DNA (rDNA). That process involves joining the molecules from two different species, then inserting the product into a host to create new genetic combinations. Instead, the USMCA opens possibilities for all kinds of agricultural technology, including gene editing. Moving ahead with biotechnology could be crucial for addressing pressing matters that affect agriculture, such as water scarcity.
Approximately 700 million people suffer from water scarcity, and that number could double by 2025. Also, the agriculture industry is the greatest user of water. Things must change — both to address the growing water scarcity problem and to give farmers more options for growing things without using so much water.
Biotechnology has already helped, and it seems highly likely to continue spurring progress. In one example, scientists altered the expression of one gene common to all plants. This change led to a 25% increase in the plants’ water-use efficiency without adversely impacting yield or photosynthesis.
As part of the USMCA, Mexico, Canada and the United States agreed to improve information sharing and cooperation about biotechnology matters related to trade. That change could speed new developments, resulting in positive outcomes for all involved groups and the world at large.
Fairer Agricultural Grading Standards
A grading system for agricultural products defines trading procedures. For example, commercial buyers of a product grown in another country refer to the grading standards to set expectations about a product’s quality. The USMCA specifies that Canada will evaluate U.S. imported wheat and assign it a grade no less favourable than it would give Canadian-grown wheat.
Canada will also no longer require country of origin statements associated with inspection certificates or quality grades. The United States and Canada will discuss issues related to seed regulations under the USMCA, too.
Concerning Mexico and the United States, the two countries agreed to non-discriminatory grading standards and services. Moreover, a dialogue will begin between the two countries to flesh out the details for quality standards and grading regarding trade.
A Promising Future
It’s too early to say what the real-life effects will be of the changes outlined here. But, the commitments laid out within the USMCA seem like they’ll represent clear improvements for agriculture professionals, as well as everyone who benefits from their goods.
I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation. You can read more of my work by clicking this link: Conservation Folks.
COVID-19 takes down Agri-Trade 2020
Agri-Trade Equipment Expo cancelled for November 11th – 13th, 2020
Agri-Trade Equipment Expo announced today that they made the difficult decision to cancel their 2020 show that was to be held November 11 – 13 at Westerner Park. Although Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy guidelines do allow for trade shows to take place, considering all factors, Agri-Trade felt they had no choice but to cancel the show.
Agri-Trade worked closely with all stakeholders to come to this decision. They all worked together to do what they felt was best for their exhibitors during this pandemic. Corporate policies have introduced restricted travel that would impede both exhibitor participation and attendance for the event.
“With so many concerns around the current situation with COVID-19, many companies have implemented restricted travel policies. With a significant number of companies having to cancel, we felt that the show would not be representative of the Agri-Trade brand. This was not a decision that was made lightly, we left no stone unturned as we were making this decision.” said David Fiddler, Agri-Trade Expo Show Manager.
“We know that in a normal year, millions of dollars of business takes place and almost $300 million in economic impact is created as a direct result of the show. We recognize that many people and businesses will be impacted by this decision. We appreciate the Government of Alberta, and Alberta Health Services for providing an environment that would allow tradeshows such as Agri-Trade to be a part of Alberta’s recovery plan.” said Rick More, Chief Executive Officer, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.
“After hundreds of event cancellations over the past six months, we wanted to try everything we could to safely and successfully host Agri-Trade, once we were given the green light for tradeshows by Alberta Health Services. But as we monitor the environment and the ongoing challenges and feedback from exhibitors and stakeholders, we feel that the risks outweigh the reward in pushing forward this year.” Mike Olesen, Chief Executive Officer, Westerner Park.
The Agriculture community is resilient and has already persevered through a number of challenges this 2020 plant and harvest season. Agri-Trade looks forward to once again being the place to do business in Agriculture in western Canada in November of 2021.
Since 1984 Agri-Trade has been a joint venture of the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce and Westerner Park, attracting farmers and ranchers to view the newest equipment, technologies and the latest information to boost productivity and profit their operations. Agri-Trade is one of Canada’s premier indoor/outdoor agricultural equipment expositions and is considered to be one of the best Farm Equipment Shows to do business in North America.
If you are looking or more information on Agri-Trade Equipment Expo please be sure to follow them on social media or stay up to date at www.agri-trade.com
For media inquiries contact: David Fiddler, Show Manager 403-304-5719 or [email protected].
Daryl McIntyre talks Equine health Thursday at 7PM on the “Raised With Care” sessions
“…The more we know about our animals and our responsibilities to them, the better care we can provide. This, in turn, helps produce a better product and a stronger industry…” Alberta Veterinary Medicine Association
The Raised With Care sessions are a series of live-streaming interactive conversations with Alberta livestock owners about stewardship strategies that contribute positively to antimicrobial stewardship and animal welfare.
The sessions will explore four main areas of animal health: Vaccines, Healthy Facilities, Identifying Issues in Animal, and Impact of the relationship with veterinarians, veterinary technologists and the team at veterinary practices.
“We are talking equine health on Thursday with Dr. Greg Evans,” says host Daryl McIntyre. “The focus is on anti-microbial (anti-biotic) stewardship and general horse health.”
Sept 10 | 7PM – Equine
Sept 17 | 7PM– Apiculture
Sept 24 | 7PM– Dairy
Oct 1 | 7PM – Small Ruminant Animals
Oct 8 | 7PM-Poultry
Oct 15 | 7PM– Pork
Oct 22 | 7PM– Backyard Agriculture
Oct 29 | 7PM– Companion Animals
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