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By Michelle Ross, Meade, Kansas.

Key farm belt senators are lining up to ask leaders in both parties to move ahead quickly on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee has voiced his support.

“I am glad to see long-awaited action on consideration of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. USMCA is critical for the success of our farmers, ranchers, producers and manufacturers who rely on trade to grow their businesses and create more jobs,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, in a news release. I look forward to reviewing the final text of the agreement and working with my colleagues in the Senate to finalize this trade agreement.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science and member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture has sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting USMCA be considered immediately upon its discharge from the Senate Finance Committee.

“We ought not allow this lack of seriousness on the part of House Democrats to stand in the way of the Senate moving forward on the important legislative work the American people elected each of us to accomplish,” Moran stated. “In particular, passage of the USMCA must be a top priority of the Senate. Should the impeachment process remain stalled, I urge you to move to the consideration of the USMCA implementing legislation upon its discharge from the Senate Finance Committee.”

The USMCA was signed over a year ago by President Donald Trump and Moran believes the agreement will provide certainty for farmers, ranchers and manufacturers with this country’s largest trading partners. The agreement, he said, maintains duty-free access for the vast majority of U.S. agricultural goods, while improving market access for dairy products and wheat exported to Canada. While no grade deal is perfect, he said, the USMCA helps modernize the U.S.’s trading relationship with Mexico and Canada to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy.

“Having received 385 votes in the House of Representatives, the USMCA is an overwhelmingly bipartisan product, making its passage a readily accomplishable achievement,” Moran said. “Barring a sudden end to House Democrats’ political gamesmanship regarding impeachment, the Senate ought to expeditiously consider and pass this historic agreement.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, previously announced his intention to lead a markup of the agreement on Jan. 7, based on the expectation that the Senate will have received the legislation beforehand from the House of Representatives.

“This markup will move us closer to ratifying USMCA in early 2020,” Grassley said in a prepared statement. “Farmers, manufacturers and all American workers will soon be able to benefit from a stronger and modernized trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.”

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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