Billings, Mont. – In anticipation of a soon-to-be-held summit between U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai and her counterparts within the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), 18 national, state, and regional cattle and ranch associations sent a letter today seeking immediate relief from that agreement.
The letter addressed to Ambassador Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states that the USMCA, “more than any other multilateral free trade agreement,” has “severely weakened” the United States’ live cattle supply chain and the rural communities it supports.
Included in the letter are two charts, one showing that during the past seven years the United States imported from Mexico and Canada about two and one-half times the value of beef and cattle that it exports, importing over $4.4 billion worth of beef and cattle but only exporting less than $2 billion of the same commodities.
The second chart depicts quantity-based USMCA trade and shows the U.S. imported about three and one-half times the quantity of beef and cattle that it exported.
The ranch groups acknowledge that the USMCA is working well for multinational meatpackers, processors and importers who benefit greatly from sourcing more and more foreign cattle and unlabeled beef from Mexico and Canada. But they argue those benefits for the few are causing irreparable harm to America’s family farm and ranch cattle producers who “cannot be expected to prosper” unless relief from the USMCA is granted.
The letter also describes how multinational corporations exploited domestic cattle producers by importing tens of thousands of slaughter-ready cattle from Canada while simultaneously depriving U.S. cattle producers access to their own markets following the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ranch groups concluded by urging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary Vilsack “to take decisive action to rebalance the untenable cattle and beef trade imbalance memorialized under the USMCA. At the very least, and as a first step, we urge you to take steps to assist America’s cattle farmers and ranchers by giving them the ability to compete in their own domestic market by differentiating their USA-produced beef from foreign beef and beef from foreign cattle.”