Local farmers pushing for change in trade agreement

BUCKEYE, Ariz. (FOX 10) - Farmers for Free Trade -- the national coalition supported by America's leading farm groups -- is pushing for change in the country's current trade agreement.

"It's super important that we get USMCA ratified," Arizona State Sen. Sine Kerr said. "It means so much for our agriculture commodities that we have open markets that we're able to trade our goods."

Congress will soon consider a solid trade agreement for the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, or the USMCA, which will soon replace NAFTA, setting new rules that would guarantee Arizona farmers access to trade to Mexico and Canada.

"The USMCA, which is the new NAFTA, is so important," said Angella Hoffman of Farmers for Free Trade. "Arizona, number one and number two trading partners with Canada and Mexico. There's been a lot of uncertainty and instability in the market and what we really need right now is the opportunity to stabilize some things for our farmers and ranchers, but also for the millions of jobs affected by trade."

However, elected officials and local farm leaders need Congress to act fast.

"We worked so hard to get open markets all around the world and so because we're so efficient at what we do, that we need that open access so when access is cut off, we feel that immediately," Sen. Kerr said.

When trade access is cut off, farmers feel it immediately, as their inventories build up and prices go down.

"They've lost a lot to their markets because of these trade disputes," Hoffman said. "There's been counter-retaliations, particularly in the dairy business -- that's been a big hit. We're losing a lot of these family farms."