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Closings, Cancellations and Delays

Actions just ahead of full start to USMCA point to more ag trade troubles

News Staff - June 8, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Words matter.

When President Trump called for a halt to all cattle imports into the U.S. in response to domestic cattle producers claiming meat packers use those imports to manipulate domestic supply and prices, the other key players in a recently ratified trade agreement, the USMCA,  were listening.

Trump made the remarks while announcing a $19 billion coronavirus-related agriculture relief package. The US Cattlemen’s Association and R-CALF USA welcomed the President’s remarks.

The United States has imported 731.5K head of cattle so far in 2020, down 7.3% from 2019. The only two countries allowed live imports are Mexico which to date numbers 483,321K head and Canada, to date at 248,214K.

North American leaders all sold the refashioning of what was formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump dumped, as a big win that would remove uncertainty between the trading partners.  It’s to be in full operational force by July 1.

Now, some agricultural issues between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada are being questioned following Trump’s public statements.  Mexico is responding by denying import permits for some U.S. ag products saying they are not in compliance.

"On the Mexican side, we've seen lately quite a bit of regulatory backtracking primarily by the Environment Ministry that could be problematic because they are suspending import permits for agricultural biotech products even though they are in compliance with Mexican law," Smith Ramos said at an event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association, POLITICO reports.

Mexican officials have also expressed concern over talk of the U.S. doing more border inspections on more ag products coming from that country.

Mexico's environment minister has also pushed to prohibit glyphosate imports, the controversial herbicide that's used to kill weeds. Ag groups in the U.S., however, want to keep up production of the herbicide, despite environmental and health concerns.

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