In Iowa, it’s time for presidential candidates to put up or shut up when it comes to supporting our farmers. It may be anathema to their fight for the Democratic Party nomination, but this will require that they all stand up and support President Trump on a bipartisan trade deal: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). As a seventh generation Iowa farmer, I know first-hand the USMCA would have a very positive impact on agriculture in our state.
The Democrats running for president have been popping up all over Iowa to tout their plans for American agriculture, which invariably rely on big-government schemes to redistribute wealth rather than policies that would actually address the difficulties our farmers face.
U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and even former Vice President Joe Biden, have all sought to appeal to Iowa’s farmers with pledges to use subsidies and federal regulations to micromanage the agricultural economy.
If the Democrats were truly serious about supporting farmers, though, they would have already embraced President Trump’s efforts to unleash the full potential of America’s farming communities.
Even economic experts who have been critical of Donald Trump admit that his trade policies, particularly the USMCA, are key to agricultural prosperity in Iowa and across the country.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, for instance, recently underscored the importance of ratifying the USMCA, arguing that "it’s unforgivable" for the trade deal to be stuck in Congress.
That’s especially true for Iowa, which exported $6.6 billion worth of goods to Mexico and Canada in 2018. Under the USMCA, those exports will increase significantly as Iowa farmers gain new access to the large, profitable markets of America’s two closest neighbors.
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In fact, agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada dwarf the approximate $20 billion value of foodstuffs that American farmers sell to China, yet the Democrats have consistently used Beijing as a bogeyman, making dire predictions that farmers would be hurt by the strategic counter-tariffs that President Trump has implemented in response to China’s decades of abusive trade practices.
"When you think of China and the dispute there, it was $20-$25 billion of agricultural trade. The USMCA? Over $40 billion," said Iowa State University economist Chad Hart. "Canada and Mexico are our two very consistent, largest trading partners — not just in agriculture, but in all the products we have across the entire economy."
For months, however, congressional Democrats — including Iowa Reps. Axne, Finkenauer, and Loebsack — have stonewalled the USMCA despite broad bipartisan support, refusing to vote on a trade deal that would help thousands of Iowa farmers. To make matters worse, the Democrat-controlled House is now preoccupied with a bogus "impeachment inquiry" — all but ensuring that the USMCA will remain in legislative limbo for many months to come.
Notably, other experts also argue that the president’s $28 billion relief package for farmers was instrumental in stabilizing Iowa’s agricultural sector, which had been struggling with low commodity prices for years before Trump’s election.
The positive impact of President Trump’s policies is indisputable — and farmers would be even more prosperous if not for the Democrats' obstructionism. Sadly, the Democrats have done everything in their power to derail the president’s agenda, and that includes denying farmers the enormous benefits of the USMCA.
The candidates seeking the Democrats' presidential nomination are still running around the Hawkeye State pandering for the agriculture vote, but by failing to support President Trump’s USMCA trade deal, they’ve already broken their pledge to help Iowa farmers.