The Senate Passed USMCA – Here’s What it Means for Agriculture

NFU E-News

Issue 447 ~ January 23, 2020


Senate Passes USMCA

The U.S. Senate voted 89-10 in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), moving the trilateral deal to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval. Mexico has already approved the deal, and Canada is expected to follow suit in late January.

Though National Farmers Union (NFU) initially withheld endorsement when USMCA was introduced over a year ago, the organization’s board voted to support it after the U.S. House of Representatives made several improvements, including stronger labor standards, more robust enforcement mechanisms, and some modest improvements to environmental protections, as well as partial elimination of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration procedure. Additionally, it omits a provision that would have inflated health care costs by granting pharmaceutical companies marketing exclusivity for certain medications for at least 10 years.

NFU was pleased with the Senate’s passage of the agreement, but was disappointed that it neither meaningfully addresses import dumping, which has depressed domestic commodity prices, nor does it reinstate mandatory Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL).
“There is still significant room for improvement,” NFU President Roger Johnson said in a statement. “We urge Congress and the Trump administration to continue working to strengthen trade deals so they better support the success of family farmers and rural communities.”
Read more in the NFU release.

Women Build Community at Annual Conference

Between consistently low commodity prices, chronic  overproduction, a rapidly changing climate, and trade uncertainty, it’s a difficult time to be a farmer. But women farmers face a whole host of other problems on top of all of that: difficulty finding appropriately sized tools and machinery, being excluded from succession planning,  sexism from other farmers, discrimination from lenders and government agencieshealth risks associated with pregnancy, and child care responsibilities, among other challenges.

Because the majority – 64 percent – of American farmers are men, these issues aren’t often addressed in agricultural education programs. National Farmers Union (NFU), an early supporter of women’s suffrage, has been working to overcome this gender disparity for the duration of its 117-year existence. The general farm organization has offered women-focused educational programming for many decades and continues to prioritize the specific needs and interests of women farmers.

From January 19-21, NFU continued its ongoing effort for gender equity at its annual Women’s Conference in San Diego, California. Farmers, policy makers, educators, and specialists presented on many of the obstacles that women in agriculture regularly confront and provided practical information on farm business planning, cooperative development, self care, accessing capital, hiring farm labor, and running for elected office and other leadership positions. These speakers represent a variety of agricultural organizations, including AgriSafe, Women Food and Agriculture Network, American AgCredit, and Farm Commons. In the keynote address, Kate Greenberg, the first woman to serve as Colorado’s Agriculture Commissioner, and Alexis Taylor, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, spoke about their paths to leading state agriculture departments, the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and the importance of diverse representation in agricultural leadership.

But technical skills aren’t the only thing a farmer needs to run a successful farm business – she also needs the help and support of her community from time to time. Yet due to the gender imbalance in the industry, that community may not be physically present. Instead, many women farmers connect with friends and mentors from across the country at conferences and conventions and stay in touch via phone, email, and social media. NFU’s Women’s Conference facilitated these connections through networking and social events throughout the course of the conference.
See the full agenda here and view more photos from the event here.
Survey on Food Safety and Conservation Practices
Are you a fruit, vegetable, or nut grower in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or Southeast? A group of researchers at Cornell University, the University of California, and the University of Rochester want to hear from you.
The anonymous survey takes 20-30 minutes to complete, and the first 300 participants will receive a $15 gift card. Your answers will help researchers understand and model trade-offs between food safety and conservation practices used on fresh produce farms. The aim of the project is to help farmers develop management plans that minimize costs and optimize food safety and conservation outcomes.

Click here to take the survey.

Learn to Identify and Respond to Farm Stress

Between persistently low prices, climate change, and trade uncertainty, times have been particularly tough in farm country – and it’s taking a toll on farmers’ mental wellbeing. But because 60 percent of rural residents live in areas that suffer from mental health professional shortages, many don’t know where to turn when they need help.


That’s why National Farmers Union is offering an online training to help family members, friends, and neighbors address the farm stress crisis in their own communities. The training, which is free to all Farmers Union members and employees, will teach participants how to recognize signs of stress and offer help.

Learn more and register here.

Registration Open for NFU’s 118th Annual Convention
Registration is open for National Farmers Union’s 118th Anniversary Convention! The annual gathering will be held March 1-3, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Savannah in Savannah, Georgia.
The convention provides Farmers Union members and attendees the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and grow through policy discussion, breakout sessions, and farm tours. This year’s event will offer new learning opportunities while still maintaining a focus on the issues that matter most to our family farmers and ranchers, such as the farm economy and providing meaningful support to the men and women who feed, fuel, and clothe us.
Additionally, NFU’s annual grassroots policy making process culminates at the convention. Elected delegates from Farmers Union state divisions will discuss and vote on the organization’s policy positions and priorities. The resulting policy book guides the work National Farmers Union staff does in Washington, D.C. for the subsequent year.
We hope to see you there! Learn more and register here.
Apply for a Farmers Union Scholarship

Each year, National Farmers Union awards several scholarships to eligible college students. There are three available awards:
  • Stanley Moore National Scholarships are awarded to Farmers Union members enrolled in a two-year or four-year college or university to be used for tuition and books.
  • The Hubert K. JoAnn Seymour Scholarship is awarded to one or two enrolled in a two-year or four-year college or university to be used for tuition and books.
  • Stanley Moore FUI Foundation Regional Scholarships are awarded to Farmers Union members in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Learn more about the scholarships and how to apply here.

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