Out with the old; in with the new.

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is ending the quarter-century reign of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Congress and President Trump came to agreement on details of the trade pact earlier this month. The new agreement affects many facets of business in the U.S. and trade with its closest neighbors and is largely viewed favorably across cultures and party lines. 

The Yuba-Sutter-Colusa area, mostly through its agricultural base, is bound to be affected by the deal. Here’s what some area agriculture interests had to say about USMCA:

– Michelle Connelly, executive director/CEO, California Walnut Board

Connelly said the walnut industry is very pleased to see things moving in the right direction in terms of trade agreements with valuable markets across the globe.

Tariffs weren’t involved, Connelly said, so the deal won’t have direct impact here. 

Mexico might not make up a big market for California walnuts, but Canada is in the top 10, in terms of the commodity’s top importers.

“With respect to the deal, there’s nothing really specific to gain as an industry,” she said. “But it’s important to stress how important this deal is for the U.S. in terms of us working with our closest trading partners and demonstrating that to the rest of the world. It came on the heels of the historic China deal, so that demonstrates that the U.S. can and will negotiate. We also expect it to provide some stability to the market, because markets – not just ours but all of them – have been in a volatile state for the recent past because of trade issues.” 

–Jim Morris communications manager, California Rice Commission

Morris said the USMCA deal is a good thing from a California rice perspective. Mexico makes up the top U.S. rice export market, and Canada is in the top five.

“We appreciate the opportunity to maintain our rice sales to Canada, an important export market,” Morris said. “California ships significant quantities of rice to Canada ... We anticipate passage of this deal would maintain this important customer base. Mexico is the top export market for U.S. rice, involving rice grown in the Southern U.S. Maintaining that strong market is helpful to all rice growers in our country.” 

–Jamie Johansson, president, California Farm Bureau Federation

The recent trade deal is a win for farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses throughout the state, according to the FBF. 

Johansson said its passage has been a top priority of his organization and marks a milestone, as it is one step closer to realizing the agreement’s benefits to California. 

“We’re grateful to the many California farmers and ranchers who contacted their elected representatives on behalf of the USMCA, and we thank Senator Feinstein for her vote to approve the agreement,” Johansson said. “The USMCA will further open markets for California-grown food and agricultural products, and will benefit the tens of thousands of Californians whose jobs rely on farm exports to Canada and Mexico.” 

– Donn Zea, executive director, California Dried Plum Board

Zea said while the new deal won’t have a significant impact for prunes, it does provide some certainty that they will have free trade with Canada and Mexico. 

“Those are two very important markets for us,” Zea said. “It’s nice anytime you have zero tariffs, friendly trading agreements and sharing borders.”

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