Canadian and American ranchers anxiously await USMCA ratification — can we push it forward?

There’s not a lot of change between the existing North American Free Trade Agreement and the newly minted, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) for Canada’s beef industry. And the political and producer group powers that be is OK with that but wants very much to see ratification move forward. In the absence of ratification, American and Canadian ranchers alike would prefer that NAFTA remain in force, as is.

That’s not a certainty, however, and that uncertainty is weighing on the minds of both the American and Canadian cattle industries.

John Masswohl, director of government and international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, has recently returned from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s annual meeting at New Orleans, LA. He says that USMCA essentially maintains the status quo from NAFTA, in regards to the cattle industry, and that’s OK — the next big step is ratification, and if there is a way for the industry to push ratification forward, they’d do it.

“If it takes awhile to implement, that’s OK, so long as the existing NAFTA stays in effect,” Masswohl says. That’s not a guarantee, as President Trump has threatened to use withdrawal from NAFTA to put pressure on congress, and he doesn’t make empty threats, according to Masswohl.

While Masswohl acknowledges that there are still some big-picture issues to iron out — section 232, which imposes tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum — Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. cattle industries all agree that NAFTA or USMCA is a good deal for their respective ranchers, overall.

Listen below to that discussion between Shaun Haney and John Masswohl, and also a discussion on ensuring access into the EU through CETA of product (it’s lucrative, product is moving, but there are hiccups, and the industry is still working out the logistics of the supply chain). 

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