State expects benefits from new trade agreement

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The new version of NAFTA, which took effect Wednesday, could benefit Kentucky farmers with new export opportunities, according to state officials.

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles is optimistic Kentucky agricultural producers will see a much-needed economic boost with today’s implementation of a new trade relationship between the United States and its North American neighbors.


“As the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement begins to go in effect today, many Kentucky farm families are grateful for trade certainty among our nation’s two largest trading partners,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said, referring to the new agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“For our agricultural producers, the agreement modernizes and strengthens food and agriculture trade.”

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) begins a new chapter for trade between the three countries. The agreement is a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) providing stable access to the Canadian and Mexican markets, providing increased growth in the U.S. economy.

According to the National Association of State Department of Agriculture, USMCA modernizes trade relations between the three countries by:

  • Increasing market access for U.S. agriculture products, especially dairy, eggs and poultry;
  • Maintaining duty-free access for U.S. agricultural products to Mexico;
  • Modernizing provisions that increase transparency, advance science-based decision making and creating new mechanisms for resolving issues; and
  • Supporting agricultural innovation, including commitments to enhance North American collaboration on gene editing.

“These improvements are critical to the success of today’s farming families – especially during the coronavirus pandemic,” Quarles said.

Annually, Kentucky exports total $29.1 billion worldwide; of that total Kentucky’s exports $213 million agriculture products to Canada and another $49 million to Mexico. The goal of the new agreement is to increase those numbers.

In 2018, Quarles led Kentucky’s first-ever agriculture trade mission to Canada strengthening existing relationships and discovering new economic opportunities for Kentucky’s agriculture families. The trip shed even more light on the importance of trade to our North American neighbors.

“America makes and grows the best products in the world. In Kentucky, our farmers and agribusinesses take pride in our long history of providing food and fiber for not only the Bluegrass State but for other countries as well,” Quarles said. “We look forward to continuing the work at home by connecting our farmers to new and existing markets.”

Kentucky will work alongside NASDA to ensure full implementation and enforcement of this trade agreement. Quarles serves as NASDA’s vice president.

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