By: Benjamin Yount of the Center Square
The verdict in Wisconsin about the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico is nearly unanimous.
Business groups and elected leaders all say the United States/Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a win for Wisconsin.
“Our farmers have been waiting in uncertainty for more than a year for USMCA to get done. So, it’s certainly good news to see the deal take this significant step forward. There are more steps to be taken, however, so we are not breathing a full sigh of relief," Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative President Brody Stapel said Tuesday.
The Edge is one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country.
“USMCA is critical to the long-term success of the U.S. dairy community," Stapel said. "Mexico is our number one dairy foods export market and Canada is third. Combined," he said. "They account for more than $2 billion each year. This agreement would protect those longtime trading relationships and allow for growth in market share. That means economic certainty for businesses, families, employees and rural communities."
Wisconsin's longest serving congressman, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Milwaukee, also said that access to Canadian and Mexican markets is a big win for dairy farmers in Wisconsin.
"It is a boon for our state’s dairy farmers who will have more access to Canadian markets," Sensenbrenner said. "After enduring months of needless delay, I am eager to vote for the deal and am grateful to the Trump administration for their tireless work reaching an agreement.”
The deal is coming together after a few tweaks and some concessions to labor unions.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-LaCrosse, said those changes are key, not just in moving the deal forward but for making it workable.
"Raising standards in trade agreements to level the playing field for workers, farmers, and businesses is vital so we are not trying to compete in a race to the bottom," Kind said in a statement.
Both Canada and Mexico must ratify the new trade agreement. There is hope Congress can finalize it by perhaps the end of the year.
U.S. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, provided the simplest statement of the day. Gallagher summed up the impatience that many here in Wisconsin have felt for the past year-plus.
“It’s about damn time," Gallagher said.