A bipartisan farming group is touring the country to build support for the newly proposed trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The motorcade rolled into west central Indiana Wednesday to talk with farmers, industry leaders and lawmakers.
The Farmers For Free Trade group hosted a panel discussion, passed out t-shirts, buttons and yard signs.
Organization co-director Angela Hofmann says the goal of the 3,000 plus mile tour is getting farmers involved in encouraging their lawmakers to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA).
“This is such a critical time in agriculture, particularly with this new NAFTA, the USMCA, that we felt that we needed to get into the heartland to have that conversation in the communities, in the farms, in the facilities that are really affected by this trade agreement,” says Hofmann.
Indiana’s agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada totaled about $816 million last year supports more than 6,000 Hoosier jobs, according to economic think tank The Trade Partnership.
Hoosier farmer Brent Bible says the ongoing trade disputes and tariffs make it difficult to turn a profit.
“We can’t continue to produce a product that we can’t sell above the cost of production and that’s where we’re at today,” says Bible.
He hopes to see the trade agreement passed so prices stabilize.
“The important thing is that we just need it done,” says Bible. “The absence of an agreement and the fact that there are tariffs in place because of the absence of the agreement is creating too much uncertainty.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Baird (R-Covington) serves on the agriculture committee and says he believes the trade agreement will be ratified.
“The agriculture provides the foundation in these rural communities and the dollars that they generate and the communities that they support is invaluable to the whole state, it’s invaluable to our country,” says Baird.
While all three partner country’s leaders have signed the new trade agreement, it must get legislative approval from each country.