Mexican negotiators, U.S. House lawmakers and the administration continue to work toward a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. U.S. officials are urging Mexico to accept a compromise deal relating to labor enforcement. Mexican Undersecretary for North America Jesus Seade met twice this week with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
If an agreement is reached shortly, a House vote could be scheduled by Dec. 20. An agreement would provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers, ensuring zero-duty market access to two of its largest export markets. Since the trade agreement was signed last November, the National Pork Producers Council and its members have been aggressively working to ensure ratification, educating lawmakers about the significant benefits that the USMCA provides for U.S. hog farmers and becoming a "top ask" during the organization's spring and fall congressional fly-ins.
Additionally, the NPPC recently launched a new campaign, "It's Pork O' Clock Somewhere," which focuses on the importance of the USMCA by highlighting pork and the many ways it's enjoyed across North America. The NPPC urges Congress to quickly reach consensus on any outstanding issues and swiftly bring the USMCA up for a vote.
Additional support for more ag inspectors
A House bill to provide congressional funding for more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspectors got a boost recently when four additional lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors. U.S. Reps. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) joined colleagues in support of H.R. 4482, by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas).
There are now 19 lawmakers who support the bill, that authorizes $222 million over three years to enable CBP to hire 240 new agriculture specialists and 200 new agriculture technicians each fiscal year until the shortage is filled.
The bill also authorizes 60 new canine teams over the next three years. Vela's legislation is a companion to a Senate bill that recently passed by unanimous consent in that chamber. For more than a year, the NPPC has led agriculture's call for a solution to the ag inspector shortage to bolster the nation's defenses against foreign animal diseases.