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South Dakota Farmers Union not happy with USMCA agreement

(WCAX)
Published: Dec. 13, 2019 at 5:39 PM CST
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The South Dakota Farmers Union said they're not happy about market conditions for South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers.

The USMCA Trade Agreement was released this week and was supposed to fix some of the problems the group is facing, but they say it's no different than NAFTA.

The North American Free Trade Agreement was in place before the Trump administration brought in the USMCA trying to lower the trade deficit between Mexico and Canada.

"Enough is enough. It’s time that we take agriculture seriously," South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke said.

It’s been a week dominated by impeachment but in the midst of all that a deal between congressional leaders and the White House has been made to move forward with the USMCA Trade Agreement.

"I mean this administration told us there was going to be a great new deal and they let our cattle producers especially down here in the state of South Dakota," Sombke said.

Sombke said this new agreement does not help struggling farmers and ranchers rather they are better off keeping NAFTA.

"He was the arsonist and we want to give him credit for burning the house down to the ground, but yet at the same time agriculture in the state of South Dakota is still suffering because of the lack of a better deal," Sombke said.

He wants to see health care costs dealt with for family farmers in rural communities. Along with that, he'd like to see country origin labeling fixed. Right now it allows countries like Canada and Mexico to pass their products off as American made and with a change that wouldn't happen anymore.

"Well no deal is perfect, but every independent third party analyst I’ve seen has talked about what big news this is for the American economy," Congressman Dusty Johnson said.

This would increase American Ag exports by two billion dollars a year in areas like wheat, dairy, and poultry. 176,000 new American jobs would be made according to those third party analysts.

"NAFTA was a good deal, but its 25 years old," Johnson said.

"This old agreement was 25 years old and they didn't advance the ball forward once. They didn't bring anything up to date. They didn't move forward anywhere. We as family farmers were left in the dust again," Sombke said.

"So much of what Washington argues about and screams about doesn't really improve the lives of Americans. USMCA clearly, demonstrably improves the lives of Americans," Johnson said.

Johnson said 95 percent of the mouths in this world are located outside of U.S. borders. If the U.S. wants to grow opportunities to sell into those markets he said the agreement is a great opportunity to do that.

While Sombke isn't happy with the agreement he said he's still happy for those who got something out of this new deal.

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