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Congress should back Trump trade deal with Mexico, Canada to help California farmers

Thousands of almonds, automatically culled from twigs, fill a trailer bin after being swept up off the orchard ground, during Madera County farmer Tom Roger's harvest, Thursday morning, August 25, 2016.
Thousands of almonds, automatically culled from twigs, fill a trailer bin after being swept up off the orchard ground, during Madera County farmer Tom Roger's harvest, Thursday morning, August 25, 2016. Fresno Bee file

Agriculture is more than an industry in California; it is a way of life. Farmers face uncertainty in many stages of production. Mother Nature controls the difference between success or devastation during harvest. Rain and snowpack levels govern the amount of water allocated to farms. Rapid advancements in biotechnology and precision agriculture change the tools available to farmers.

Agriculture is the foundation of the Golden State. California’s rich land and diverse climates make us the top producer of agricultural goods in the nation. Farming is more than a job; it supports our economies, infrastructure and communities.

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Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, the GOP leader in the California Senate. Office of state Sen. Shannon Grove Contributed

California continues to set the pace for producing and exporting goods. According to the California Department of Agriculture, our state is the nation’s supplier of 99 percent or more of foods such as almonds, artichokes, figs, garlic, kiwi, olives, pistachios, raisins, table grapes and walnuts.

California’s two largest trading partners are Mexico and Canada. Our state exported more than $30.7 billion in products to our southern neighbor and $17.7 billion to our northern one. These countries combined make up more than 28% of California’s total exports.

Farmers face uncertain times regularly, so providing stability wherever possible is critical. For years, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has done just that, provided a blanket of security over agricultural trade. The agreement, signed in 1994, reduced restrictions and eliminated trade barriers, opening the borders to free trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

As our economy and world have developed and grown, our trade needs have as well. President Trump has fulfilled his promise to address these changes with the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA modernizes trade with Mexico and Canada. It creates a level playing field for American workers, benefits agriculture, supports a 21st century intellectual property protection, modernizes digital trade provisions, and helps protect small- and medium-sized businesses.

The USMCA will benefit our farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses by modernizing and strengthening food and agriculture trade in North America. It will create and improve opportunities to export dairy, poultry and eggs from the United States, will maintain zero tariffs on agriculture products, and will implement provisions to allow agriculture products to be traded more fairly.

Free-flowing commerce is critical to our state’s agriculture industry, which is why I am working on a state Senate resolution to urge Congress to support the USMCA.

We must urge Congress to pass the USMCA because it will modernize trade with our neighboring countries, bring security to our farmers, and maintain the greatest agriculture industry in the nation.

Shannon Grove of Bakersfield represents California’s 16th Senate District and is the Senate Republican leader.

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