On Wednesday, Oct. 17, President Donald Trump and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue invited me to the White House — to sit in the Oval Office — and tell my family farm's story.
It was humbling to be among six Americans representing various industries, brought together by President Trump so he and eight of his Cabinet members could listen to our stories of the positive changes we've seen over the last two years.
I took my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to highlight progress we've seen as farmers and ranchers because of tax reform, deregulation, rural community investment and, of recent, a modernized trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
As a livestock and grain farmer, I understand the importance of international markets firsthand, especially with our neighbors to the north and south. Here in Missouri, we rely on agriculture and free trade as much as anyone. In 2016, our producers exported more than $2.2 billion of agricultural products, 64% of which went to our trading partners in Mexico and Canada.
With more than 400,000 Missouri jobs depending on strong food and agriculture industries, the Show-Me State was counting on President Trump to deliver on his promise of updating our longstanding trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. One thing was clear each time I visited Washington, D.C., over the past year to advocate for a swift resolution: President Trump and his team were determined to make good on their word.
Missouri farmers needed a win and the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) delivers just that. It keeps the markets of our top two trading partners open for business so farmers in Missouri can sell rice, beef, corn and more, provides new access in the Canadian market for U.S. dairy, poultry and egg producers and enhances provisions specific to biotechnology. The USMCA, when approved and in effect, is a deal done right that will hopefully pave the way for other trade solutions.
Now it is up to Congress to vote on the agreement. I hope lawmakers will waste no time in bringing this deal across the finish line. In the meantime, the Trump administration must keep the momentum going and successfully conclude other negotiations.
This has been, and continues to be, a challenging time for my fellow farmers and ranchers. I certainly appreciate the work being done by the Trump administration to provide for more fair and open trade that will yield benefits for years to come.
In the days since my visit to the Oval Office, many people have asked, "What is President Trump like?"
I can honestly say that President Trump and Secretary Perdue were two of the most down-to-earth and genuine leaders I've ever met. I will be forever thankful to have had the chance to thank our president directly for his dedication to rural America.
I'm confident Missouri agriculture and our rural communities are in good hands with President Trump, Secretary Perdue and Gov. Mike Parson at the wheel.
Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence.