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U.S. President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) Wednesday, Jan. 29, in front of the South Portico of the White House. The agreement opens agricultural U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada.

SAN PATRICIO COUNTY – February is a busy month for farmers with grain sorghum going into the ground in the middle of the month and cotton being planted shortly there after.

And now with President Donald Trump signing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Jan. 29, they’re more than ready to get seed into the ground.

“In our area, we’re just looking forward to moving crops into Mexico, primarily grain sorghum and corn,” National Sorghum Producers Board Director and Sinton native Bobby Nedbalek said. “That’s going to be the biggest impact.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement hours after President Trump signed the agreement, “Today is a good day for American agriculture. 

“Throughout this process, there were many detractors who said it couldn’t be done. But this is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. This agreement shows the rest of the world the United States is open for business. USMCA is critical for America’s farmers and ranchers, who will now have even more market access to our neighbors to the north and the south.

“I am excited to see the economic benefits of this agreement increase the prosperity of all Americans, especially those living in rural America.”

The USMCA will advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. This agreement builds upon existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.

Canada and Mexico are the first and second largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018 which supports more than 325,000 American jobs.

All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry and eggs, and in exchange the U.S. will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.

Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening was at the White House during the signing ceremony authorizing the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. He said after the event, “Today’s signature by President Trump of legislation authorizing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is cause for celebration. USMCA represents a tremendous opportunity for Texas farmers and ranchers to increase sales to customers in two very important foreign markets and to take another important step toward the economic recovery of Texas agriculture.

“USMCA provides new market access for American dairy and poultry products while preserving the zero-tariff platform on all other agricultural products. Additional provisions enhance science-based trading standards among the three nations as the basis for sanitary and phytosanitary measures for agricultural products, as well as progress in the area of geographic indications.”

While local farmers still have crops from last year sitting in storage waiting to be shipped out, Nedbalek said that farmers are excited to know this year’s crops can be traded down south.

“The main thing is moving forward, we’ll be able to contract grain and corn for Mexico for this next year,” Nedbalek added.

He’s also looking forward to something else as well.

“We’re all looking forward to a little rain,” he said. “We’re going to happy if we can get another inch of rain to wet down the top.”