While the United States and China continue to disagree on trade parameters, California agriculture stands to gain significantly from some of the other trade developments taking place. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky noted that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will bring important benefits for California exports, particularly dairy and wine.
“It’s really a great agreement for the United States and for U.S. agriculture, and particularly for California agriculture and California as a state,” said Censky. “While the NAFTA has been great for most of U.S. agriculture…there were some provisions that needed to be improved.”
There is optimism that as lawmakers work through differing priorities in the agreement that a USMCA vote will be occurring sometime soon. Censky highlighted some of the advantages that the USMCA will bring to California producers, including ending the “clear discrimination” of U.S. wines in the Canadian market. As the largest dairy-producing state in the nation, the agreement will also help California dairy producers compete on a more level playing field.
“Canada has had some very, very restrictive policies and discriminatory policies that have really kept both our exports out but also generated surpluses,” said Censky. “Canada was putting a lot of skim milk powder into international markets that was really destroying our export opportunities for California and other U.S. dairies.”
Another significant trade breakthrough was made which could restore certain benefits which were going to be achieved through the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. A new agreement between Japan and the U.S. is expected to increase market access in Japan for a number of commodities that are produced in California. Censky noted that the agreement should benefit various types of goods from California “including wine, but also including lots of products whether it be almonds, or walnuts, or broccoli, celery, plums, oranges, cherries. All of those are going to get some really good benefits from this framework agreement.”
Censky is currently in California for a series of events including a town hall meeting in Paso Robles with Representative Salud Carbajal. He will also be participating in a roundtable discussion with Representative Kevin McCarthy and agricultural stakeholders in Bakersfield on August 30.
Listen to Censky’s interview below.