The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By David Couch
County Supervisor, 4th District 

Couch's Corner - Jan. 16, 2020

NAFTA update good news for county


January 16, 2020 | View PDF

Much thanks to the Valley Ag Voice for their article “Local Leaders React to Passage of USMCA,” in their January issue.

For those of you who may not know, USMCA is an updated NAFTA, and stands for United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement. It was passed by the House of Representatives on Dec. 19 in a very bipartisan vote (385-41). Its impacts on the Central Valley -- and especially Kern County -- are profound, and it seemed appropriate to share parts of their story here.

According to Valley Ag, the seven key provisions that impact agriculture are:

Increasing dairy market access. America’s dairy farmers will have expanded market opportunities in Canada for a wide variety of dairy products. Canada agreed to eliminate the unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing programs that allowed farmers to undersell U.S. producers.

Biotechnology. For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.

Geographical indications. The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.

Sanitary/phytosanitary measures. The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal and plant health while improving the flow of trade.

Poultry and eggs. U.S. poultry producers will have an expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey and eggs.

Wheat. Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling US growers to be more competitive.

Wine and spirits. The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through nondiscrimination and transparency regarding sale, distribution, labeling and certification of wine and distilled spirits.”

Many local elected officials were featured in the article, including Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and TJ Cox, Assemblymen Vince Fong and Rudy Salas, and me. As I stated in the article, “The passage of USMCA is a positive for our country, Mexico and Canada. Increased trade creates jobs. which increases the economic output of Kern County and benefits our residents. It’s especially good for farming and agriculture which is a $7 billion-a-year industry for Kern County. I thank our leaders that ensured the passage of this historic deal.”

The agreement builds upon NAFTA and proves that sometimes our divided parties can work together for the common good. We need this sort of bipartisanship in DC for a host of issues, and we need this type of agreement here in the Valley as our economy is so tied to agriculture.

While these agreements are made at the federal level, as your county supervisor we engage our leaders all the time on matters like these. As you can tell from my record, I will always work to help our economy and I will generally support the drivers of our economy, in oil and ag, and in local entrepreneurship, among other job creators, so that businesses can succeed, and we can have good jobs.

Again, thanks to the Valley Ag Voice. If you have any questions, give us a call at 661-868-3680 or email us at [email protected]

David Couch is county supervisor in the 4th District, representing the Shafter and Wasco areas. The opinions expressed are his own, and may not reflect those of the newspaper or its management.


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