The land of Lincoln is at the heart of the Midwest, home to hardworking Americans from all walks of life. Whether it’s farming row crops and raising hogs, manufacturing in the suburbs, or the financial sector in the Windy City, Illinois contributes to all sectors of our economy and relies on international trade. Since 1898, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has managed the trade of agricultural commodities, making both Chicago and the Midwest the epicenter of the agricultural boom throughout America over the course of the last century.
A hundred years is a long time for a state like Illinois to lead the pack in agricultural trade, a rank supported by other great local companies and cooperatives, like Growmark and McDonalds. Illinois can continue to lead with the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
President Donald J. Trump was elected to fight for new and better trade deals, opening new markets for our agricultural products and establishing new rules so our manufacturing jobs stay in America. One of those deals he vowed to rework was NAFTA, and he did it. Our trading relationships need to ensure America’s farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners can succeed and compete on the world stage, and USMCA does just that.
Illinois exports more than $27 billion worth of goods to Mexico and Canada, and USMCA will only increase Illinois’ economic power. Illinois’ number one export to Mexico and Canada is machinery, worth over $4.4 billion. John Deere leads the world in farming equipment manufacturing and supports thousands of manufacturing jobs at its East Moline, Illinois facility.
USMCA will help John Deere export more combines, harvesters, and tractors to our North American neighbors. Caterpillar leads the world in construction equipment manufacturing and its tens of thousands of jobs in Illinois will directly benefit from USMCA. The deal supports high-paying manufacturing jobs for Americans and will keep Illinois as a manufacturing leader.
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Illinois is a leader in heavy equipment manufacturing and President Trump is committed to supporting all of these jobs and keeping them in the United States. USMCA includes rules which encourage vehicle and parts production in the United States and supports supply chains to use more United States products.
USMCA also creates a new labor value content rule to drive higher wages for manufacturing jobs, which will benefit blue collar workers in Illinois.
USMCA maintains Illinois’ duty-free access to Mexico’s hog market, the state’s largest meat export, representing a market worth over $1.2 billion. USMCA solidifies and expands market access with our neighbors to the North and South, expanding economic opportunity and putting money in farmer’s and ranchers’ wallets.
The benefits don’t stop at hogs. USMCA updates decades old language regarding technology and digital trade, stabilizing the ag-tech sector and advancing the use of technology in agriculture. The agreement also improves the flow of trade by strengthening science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures to protect human, animal, and plan health. The United States is standing for fact-based trade policies, bringing our trading relationships into the 21st century.
On my first day as Secretary, President Trump promised he would work to get better deals for American farmers, and USMCA is proof of that. President Trump’s policies have been beneficial to American agriculture from tax reform, to deregulatory actions, like pulling down the Waters of the U.S. rule, to initiating year-round E-15.
The president is laying the foundation for long-term prosperity. Our farmers, ranchers, and producers have an abundance of the highest quality products they want to sell around the globe. President Trump is laying the foundation for a stronger farm economy through USMCA and other improved trade deals.
Illinois stands to benefit in every way with USMCA. Illinois’ farmers, ranchers, and workers are some of the most productive in the world and the future looks bright with USMCA. Now it’s up to Congress to take the next step and ratify USMCA as soon as they return from the August Recess.
Sonny Perdue is the 31st U.S. secretary of agriculture and former governor of Georgia.