ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Congressmen speaking at the International Sweetener Symposium Aug. 6 in Asheville said they expect ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) late in the year or early next year, while a trade deal with China may not happen until after the 2020 election cycle.
“I think it (USMCA) will pass,” said Congressman David Rouzer of North Carolina. “It will take a little time.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t bring it to the floor until it has majority support from her conference, he added.
Meanwhile, Congressman Filemon Vela of Texas said he was confident the USMCA would not come to the floor of the House in September or October, but there was a “decent chance” it would could come up for a vote in late November or December.
“Only time will tell,” he said.
Rouzer was less optimistic about a trade deal with China.
“I personally don’t think you are going to see any agreement with China until after the (2020) election,” he said, noting that another 14 months meant little to China, who was working on a 30 to 50 year plan of “world political, economic and military domination.”
“Don’t be thinking things are going to get better,” Rouzer said.
He said he thought President Donald Trump did the right thing in calling China out on trade and other issues, including currency manipulation that resulted in wide equity market swings this week.
Both congressmen agreed that another major issue facing Washington was immigration, but they didn’t see progress until after next year’s elections.
Rouzer also predicted significant turnover during the 2020 congressional election, and he encouraged agriculture to use the opportunity to work together to educate new lawmakers about the industry’s importance to America’s future.
“Agriculture is a bright spot, and we need to talk more about what we do,” he said. “A country that can feed itself and feed the rest of the world is in a dominant position to be prosperous at home and strong abroad.”
Agriculture is an economic powerhouse that creates jobs, provides opportunities in rural communities, and embodies the values that make America great, Rouzer said. But not everyone in Congress will understand its importance unless farmers and ranchers speak proudly about their successes and fight for their interests.
He noted that agriculture’s future success will depend on good farm policies with bipartisan appeal, as well as unity throughout the farm and ranch community. The overwhelming support of the 2018 US Farm Bill, he said, was emblematic of what agriculture can accomplish when everyone comes together for the common good of all.
“It’s so critically important for us to remain united with one voice and remain active politically,” he said, explaining that the geographic diversity that agriculture possesses is an asset that can mobilize elected officials from both parties across the country. Sugar is a good example of the power of a large geographic footprint, he said, because it brings together lawmakers from Midwestern sugar beet states and sugarcane in the South.