WASHINGTON— An official for the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) testified before the US International Trade Commission regarding the importance of the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Bill Westman, senior vice president of international affairs for NAMI expressed the necessity of Canadian and Mexican export markets to the economic strength of the US meat industry.

“The integration of the North American meat and livestock sectors is essential to the long-term viability of the US meat and poultry industry,” Westman said in his testimony. “Maintaining this integrated market has a direct impact on the millions of people employed directly and indirectly by our industry.”

Westman also testified how the previous agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), significantly increased US meat and poultry exports to Canada and Mexico. Westman mentioned import duties were removed due to the free trade agreement and non-scientific barriers to trade decreased.

In his testimony, Westman said the US Northwest region exports 16-20 million lbs. of beef and beef by-products annually to Canada and Mexico, with an estimated $30 million trade value.

Westman went on to tell the commission that free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico boost incomes for millions of US farmers, ranchers, meat and poultry processors, allied manufacturers and packaging and transportation companies. He also pointed out that the USMCA provides profitable markets for the US rural agriculture-based comminutes.

According to NAMI, US red meat and poultry exports to Canada and Mexico totaled $5.5 billion in 2017, which accounts for 30.4 percent of product exports.