SJR 12 urges Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This agreement has been proposed as a solution to a variety of shortcomings in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
While the last twenty five years under NAFTA have proven to be an economic success across various sectors of the American economy; agriculture has been one of the key benefactors of this open trade. Since 1983, the year of NAFTA’s ratification, agricultural exports have quadrupled from $9 billion to $40 billion. Overall, our state exported more than $30.7 billion in products to our southern neighbor and $17.7 billion to our northern one. These countries combined make up more than 28% of California’s total exports.
However, the overall success of NAFTA within the American economy is not without certain shortcomings. NAFTA as an agreement failed to foresee the many technological advancements of today as well as rising issues of agricultural tariffs. The latter of these two issues have proven to be especially troubling to California farmers as they cope with rising Canadian tariffs on dairy, poultry, and egg products.
California’s dairy industry remains nationally productive ranking first in dairy production, with both Kern and Tulare County ranking in the top five most productive dairy counties in California. California alone creates 33% of the United States’ dairy exports. Similarly, California as a state ranks fifth for egg production and in the top fifteen for poultry production.
Despite this continued achievement in the agricultural sector, recent laws regulating poultry and egg production as well as Canada’s tariffs on dairy, poultry, and egg imports threaten the future of these industries and pose threats to other California agriculture sectors.
USMCA addresses these issues in full. The agreement eliminates Canada’s holdover tariffs on dairy, poultry, and eggs, paving the way for a massive boost to California agriculture. In addition, any new regulation on the importation of dairy, poultry, and egg products is to be discussed and negotiated between Canada and the United States before any formal ratification.
With California’s dairy, poultry, and egg production already exceeding a combined $6.5 billion in exports, USMCA will only further these industries and in turn increase American exports to Canada and Mexico by an estimated 5.9% and 6.7% respectively. These increased exports amount to a near $34 billion annually and the creation of new jobs.
California farmers deserve every opportunity to support our thriving state and country. USMCA is an agreement aimed at supporting industries across our economy but none deserve this backing more than our state’s diligent farmers.