USMCA agreement makes advances after being stuck in limbo

Written by Allison Durheim, KEYC News on December 10, 2019.

WASHINGTON (KEYC) — Announced Tuesday out of Washington: a deal to advance the United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement.

It’s a revamped version of NAFTA.

A signing ceremony was held in Mexico City on Tuesday with all three nations in attendance to show support for the deal not yet approved by Congress.

“While you might not see it as a direct impact to your pocket or you don’t exactly export something, it really does directly impact us here, whether we believe it or not,” said GreenSeam director, Sam Ziegler.

The agreement between the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, brings new life to the trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States that, before, seemed to be standing in limbo.

“The differences that were out there really didn’t relate to agriculture, they were more along labor issues and some environmental issues,” said Kent Thiesse, farm analyst at MinnStar Bank.

Canada and Mexico are the two largest export markets for the United States for food and agricultural products and the agreement opens up new doors for dairy, poultry, eggs and wheat producers exporting to Canada.

“Canada and the United States had different class systems so it kind of brings those together which will make it easier to transport certain dairy products, especially to Canada, it’ll have a big impact,” said Thiesse.

“There were some differences in how they graded wheat between Canada, which has caused issues over time,” said Thiesse.

Addressing the different grading systems among the two countries helps U.S. producers be more competitive and maintain fair prices.

“This will be the stability in the market to get people to really engage and want to do business in the long term and not as ‘well tomorrow I’ll do it for you because everything looks good,’ to make those long term contracts to increase our trade,” said Ziegler.

Ziegler said the impacts will be seen locally.

“Products are going to Mexico everyday from Mankato from the soybean crushing plants, the DDGS from our ethanol plants are going to Mexico, they’re going to Canada, so this is really important, this is really impactful,” said Ziegler.

The agreement also addresses agricultural biotechnology and biosecurity among the three nations and removed language that protected expensive biologic drugs from generic imitators.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said he wants Congress to pass USMCA by Christmas.

“That would be one of the best Christmas parties our region could ever have,” said Ziegler.

Thiesse said the next step will be getting the deal through Congress to get it on President Trump’s desk.

USMCA: a Deal for Dairy

Written by Allison Durheim, KEYC News on December 11, 2019.

NEW ULM, Minn. (KEYC) – After months in limbo, the United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement is inching closer to passing through Congress.

Canada and Mexico are the two largest export markets for the United States for food and agricultural products. Experts now say this agreement will open new doors for the agricultural industries.

Especially dairy producers, who have been waiting for the deal to pass after a year of widespread financial turmoil.

“With Canada’s milk quota system, they were removing some of their dairy products and selling them into our markets, especially in Mexico, at a reduced rate, a subsidized rate, and that was actually hurting our markets so this agreement will prevent anymore of that,” said dairy farmer out of New Ulm, Steve Hoffman.

Rural Forum discusses hot topics in agriculture industries

Written by Allison Durheim, KEYC News on December 5, 2019.

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — GreenSeam held its annual Rural Forum at the Mankato Civic Center on Thursday.

The forum is in its 37th year and this year’s theme of Navigating Perspectives brought in agriculture professionals, elected officials and college students.

The 2019 Rural Forum brought together various groups to discuss the hot topics facing today’s rural economy.

“So to many of us, the room might feel a little bit down about agriculture tonight… but also, we’re in the midst of the most exciting time of agriculture,” said GreenSeam director, Sam Ziegler.

A part of those exciting times is producers offering more food options for consumers, though producers aren’t the only ones coming up with new options.

“Our main mission is to educate the public about a lot of issues that have to do with animal rights as well as educating consumers what is in these new meats… fake bacon, fake sausage, fake hamburgers,” said president of Berman and Company and keynote speaker, Rick Berman.

The forum brought hot topics to the table for discussion, as well as how the use of social media has changed the way producers interact with consumers.

“On the other hand, we do have the opportunity to use the internet and we do have the opportunity to convince people in a much more efficient way than ever before,” said Berman.

Berman pressed the message of getting ahead of the communication gap between producers and consumers with the power of the internet.

“People who have an interest in protecting the current status quo or protecting food choices, you have to be equally vigilant, you can’t wait until the last minute to do something about a problem, you have to look over the horizon, you have to see where these threats are coming from,” said Berman.

Berman addressed misconceptions the agricultural industries are facing and how agriculture professionals can effectively communicate to all generations using social media.