By: Andy Gipson
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
As Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, I’ve invested a great deal of time traveling across our great State listening to the concerns of our farmers and ranchers. One of the recurring themes of large and small farmers over the past year has been the need for certainty in the marketplace. Our farmers’ ability to grow the highest quality agriculture products is unquestioned. However, before the first seed is put in the ground, a farmer must be able to justify how they will be able to turn a profit come harvest time. That can be challenging with fluctuating prices and market accessibility. After all, farming is unique in that no matter how high input costs may rise, farmers do not get the privilege of setting the price for their crops. A farmer takes what the market dictates. Tough weather conditions only add to the uncertainty. Presently, 500,000 acres of the Mississippi Delta is underwater, much of this being cropland. Historic floods are also devastating farms and livelihoods of our friends in the Midwest, especially Nebraska. These times demand action to support our farmers, the people who drive our greatest industry, agriculture.
I appreciate and applaud the work of President Trump and his Administration in reaching a positive new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada so that we can continue the regional trade relationship established with our neighboring countries. I urge Congress to support our farmers and quickly seal this deal. By ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), Congress will help restore a level of certainty in the markets for U.S producers including our Mississippi farmers.
Agriculture is the backbone of this country. If we want our farmers to continue providing safe, affordable, and abundant food and fiber to the world, we must ensure the doors are open that will allow them to do so. That’s why we must get this deal done. Canada and Mexico are not just our closest neighbors; they are our closest trading partners. These two countries presently make up the largest global market for U.S. farm and food exports.
Farmers, ranchers, and the citizens of the State of Mississippi will directly benefit from the implementation of the USMCA. Mississippi produces nearly $8 billion in farm commodities each year, making it the state’s largest industry and a significant economic driver. It is crucial that we have international markets available for these commodities, as Mississippi exports $2 billion of agricultural goods each year. These exports alone directly support 16,200 jobs in the state.
The USMCA modernizes our trade relationships and increases market opportunities for U.S. agricultural goods, including those produced in Mississippi. Mississippi’s $3 billion poultry industry – our largest ag sector and the State’s single largest industry – will benefit from the USMCA with our poultry producers gaining new access to Canada for Mississippi chicken and eggs.
Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. corn and the second largest importer of U.S. soybeans. USMCA will allow U.S. producers to maintain access to the market in Mexico, which will benefit our Mississippi growers of these commodities, two of the top crops produced in our State.
The time to take action on behalf of our farmers and ranchers is now. The course of action is clear. I urge Congress to quickly ratify the USMCA, a viable trade agreement that will immediately serve the best interests of our farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses.
Commissioner Andy Gipson Press Release