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A Reality Check on Dairy and the USMCA

I’ve seen trade agreements “oversold” and even participated in doing it somewhat, but Rep. Ted Budd’s “Got Trade? Dairy Farmers Stand to Gain from the USMCA” (Cross Country, Dec. 14) sets a new standard for making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The farm economy, especially dairy, has suffered greatly over the last few years, but most of the pain came from the uncertainty about the fate of Nafta—plus the salvoes with China—the search for the perfect at the expense of the good.

For agriculture, the USMCA won’t change much with Mexico, and Mr. Budd is wrong to write that “Canada has agreed essentially to get rid of tariffs and an unfair pricing system for American dairy exports.” Canada’s very narrow access concessions come nowhere close to that. There will be new rules to discipline Canada’s export-pricing shenanigans, but the Canadians have shown dogged ingenuity in shirking such rules in the past.

Successful exports have always depended on reliability and trust between buyer and seller. U.S. farmers and ranchers now have a long, expensive road ahead to re-establish ourselves as anything but secondary, backup suppliers, in light of our country’s disregard for the negotiated rules of trade.

Tom Suber


Mr. Suber is the former president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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