Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has a fiery response to a challenge that Vice President Mike Pence issued to him during a visit Thursday to a farm in his Congressional district. Pence urged Peterson to ask the House speaker to schedule a vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“As a supporter of USMCA I’m happy to make that request,” Peterson said in a statement released by his office Friday morning. “The vice president also knows full well that some straightforward hurdles remain before we can get this done. The administration still needs to submit it to the House so it can be considered. The Senate has their own problems as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and other Senate Republicans have told the administration that the USMCA is dead on arrival without the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.
“I told the administration months ago that I’d support USMCA if it didn’t screw up what is working with NAFTA. From what I can see, the agreement won’t hurt, but it doesn’t win us the increased access the administration promised us either. It seems foolish to dig a hole and then celebrate our ability to climb back out of it, but we are where we are.
“Passing USMCA will do little to stem the massive losses Minnesota farmers are suffering in the trade war with China and the retaliatory tariffs from other countries in this multifront war. The administration has yet to give assurances that the tariff war with Canada and Mexico would end even if USMCA is passed.
“My farmers are facing the double whammy of commodity prices depressed below the cost of production and an uncertain trade future in all of their major export markets. This is a direct result of the administration’s trade policies over the last two years. On top of this, farmers in Minnesota and elsewhere are facing another wet spring with many not knowing when they’ll be able to get in their fields.
“In short, farmers are hurting, and they are terrified about what would happen if the Trump administration pulled out of NAFTA without a replacement. I am supporting USMCA to provide some certainty.
“Farmers have spent tens of millions of their own money through checkoff programs over the last several decades to open up new markets. If we need to pass USMCA before we can move forward, then let’s take that step now.”