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Johnson & Baldwin Vote in Favor of USMCA
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/17/2020

It was a rare moment for Wisconsin's two U.S. Senators as they both cast their 'yes' votes for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement on Thursday. Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin have both advocated for the agreement in recent weeks, claiming it's a better plan for local farmers and industry than the former North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Wisconsinites rely on trade agreements that will benefit businesses, ensure collaboration between our trading partners, and promote stable economic growth," Johnson said. "The final version of the USMCA will help Wisconsin farmers and manufacturers continue to sell their goods throughout North America. I was pleased to vote for it, and I hope that this is the first of many trade agreements that will benefit Wisconsinites."

Earlier this week, Baldwin helped move USMCA out of several committees that she serves on. She said in a statement that it enforces labor standards that benefit American workers, while confronting Canada's unfair trade barriers and Mexico's limits on Wisconsin cheese exports. It ultimately passed in the Senate by a vote of 89 to 10.

Meanwhile, state farm organizations also praised the bill's passage. Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Director John Umhoefer says USMCA will help both dairy producers and processors, as the two neighboring countries account for more than one-third of all U.S. dairy exports.

Jeff Lyon, who's general manager of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative in Madison, adds the deal further addresses the class 6 and 7 pricing distortion issues in Canada.

"In addition to reforming Canada's controversial dairy pricing system, the USMCA also establishes new protections for products that rely on common cheese names, such as parmesan and feta," Lyon said.

U.S. dairy exports are projected to increase by more than $314 million a year, according to figures from the International Trade Commission.

President Trump is expected the sign the trade package in the coming days.

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