Jun 22, 2019Mexico becomes first to approve USMCA; push for further potato funding continues
This week, the House of Representatives began consideration of the FY2020 Agriculture Appropriations Bill on the House floor. This bill provides discretionary funding for the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies for the coming fiscal year.
For the potato industry, this bill contains enhanced funding for NIFA Potato Breeding Special Research grants and also prohibits USDA from limiting potato access to the school breakfast program.
“We’re very pleased that these two provisions are included in the bill and urge its immediate passage,” said Kam Quarles, National Potato Council CEO. “It will provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers if Congress can return to passing spending bills by Sept. 30, in time for the new fiscal year.”
Mexico ratifies USMCA
On June 19, Mexico became the first country to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) when its senate ratified it by a vote of 114-4 (three lawmakers abstained). This action was welcomed by the Trump administration and many in the U.S. business community as a necessary first step toward full implementation.
Canada and the U.S. have yet to ratify the new agreement. The National Potato Council joined a letter last week with over 950 agriculture group in pressing for Congress to rapidly take action to approve the deal.
It remains to be seen if changes in the underlying text of the USMCA being demanded by some House Democrats will force Mexico (and potentially Canada) to revote on the USMCA. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Washington, D.C. on June 21 to discuss trade issues with President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
A handful of Democratic lawmakers met with diplomats from Canada and Mexico this week to discuss the urgency of approving the USMCA. Meanwhile, House Republicans are increasingly urging Democratic colleagues to move forward on approving the USMCA. House Ways & Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Vern Buchanan (R-Florida) sent a letter to their Democratic counterparts — Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) — which stated: “Congress must move forward to approve USMCA promptly, without further delay, to unlock its many benefits.”
— National Potato Council