US farmers demand action over stalled trade deal

Global Business

U.S farmers rallied in Washington DC Thursday to lobby for ratification of a sweeping new trade deal.

They want Congress to approve an agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

And it’s a critical moment for farmers caught in the crossfire of a trade battle with China, as CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.

They’re out of the fields and into the political fray: farmers from across the U.S. meeting in the shadow of the U.S. Congress to try to secure a future of their livelihoods.

“I’m from a generation who’ll soon be disappearing from the field of agriculture,” Ben Scholz, the National Association of Wheat Growers’ President told the small crowd.

“But we need to have value in our marketplace to be able to bring those future farmers, ranchers, dairymen – whatever – back into the business.”

The Trump administration thinks it’s recapturing that value by replacing the North America Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement.

The new deal aims to protect American businesses from what’s considered unfair competition.

And ratifying the USMCA has become more pressing for farmers who’ve suffered in the tariff battle with China – another key export market.

“The bigger issue is getting something resolved with the China situation and I think it’s going to be very hard to do if we don’t get this out of the way,” Congressman Collin Peterson said.

But Mexico is the only country so far to have ratified USMCA.

And if U.S. farmers are on board, other sectors aren’t. President Donald Trump said trade unions like this new trade deal.

But that’s not true for the largest federation of trade unions here in the United States.

The AFL-CIO said it won’t support the USMCA because it believes that wages in Mexico will be kept artificially low to undercut competition in the United States.

And that’s something that Democrats in Congress who depend on trade union support will need to take into account if they’re to ratify this deal.