The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 24, 2019 1:00 am

Hoosier farmers deserve trade deal's benefits

Suzanne Crouch and Bruce Kettler

For almost a year, negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement have been complete.

Farmers in Indiana have been patiently waiting for Congress to ratify the deal, which would provide greater access to markets and a sense of certainty that they desperately need.

It's been a rough year for Hoosier farmers as they have dealt with low commodity prices, poor planting conditions and now a late harvest.

We need Congress to set politics aside and pass the trade deal now.

The deal has several key provisions that will greatly benefit our Hoosier farmers and citizens.

First, the elimination of Canada's unfair milk-pricing program will allow our dairy farmers to compete, therefore giving them additional export opportunities overseas.

Canada will provide new access for U.S. dairy products including milk, cream, butter, skim milk powder and cheese

Indiana's dairy industry is worth $750 million and the world wants access to our products.

Second, the agreement sets unprecedented standards for agricultural biotechnology, helping to support 21st century innovations in agriculture such as gene editing. Our industry has made significant strides in biotechnology since NAFTA went into effect in 1994. The new deal will enhance science-based standards while increasing information-sharing and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology trade-related matters.

Finally, this trade agreement will further strengthen Indiana's relationship with Mexico and Canada. Indiana exports $18.8 billion worth of goods to these two countries, and the deal will foster additional growth through removal of tariffs and increased market access.

Expanding markets and promoting free trade are pillars of our state department of agriculture, and we strive to encourage economic development and international trade among agribusinesses. Last September, we organized a trade mission to Mantioba, Canada, where we discussed agricultural technology and cooperative opportunities. This past July, we traveled to Hidalgo, Mexico, to further develop our relationships and foster growth between our two states in the areas of agriculture, investment and food safety.

Earlier this year, we held roundtable discussions with Indiana farmers and Indiana Farm Bureau members across the state to hear their thoughts and concerns on trade.

The message was clear: Work with our congressional delegation to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement immediately. It will provide certainty to our agricultural industry and pave the way for more robust growth in rural Indiana.

Our farmers and agribusinesses have spoken, and they want freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in Indiana.

Nov. 30 marks one year since President Donald Trump met with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. They signed off on an agreement that will bring greater prosperity to all of us.

But first, Congress needs to stop playing games and agree that the passage of the deal is an economic win for everyone.

Suzanne Crouch is lieutenant governor of Indiana and Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development and Bruce Kettler is director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

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