In Case You Missed It

Trump’s Trade Agreement: A Promise Made, A Promise Kept

Casey Guernsey
October 17, 2018
[Jefferson City] News Tribune

In 2016, farmers like me overwhelmingly supported Candidate Trump for a very simple reason: we had fallen on hard times and he made a promise to stand up for our interests when we felt like many of our concerns fell on deaf ears in Washington.

With the announcement of the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA), Trump delivered on that promise, providing a much-needed win for farmers across the heartland who count on the ability to sell their homegrown products to Mexico and Canada.

As a seventh-generation family farmer, I know firsthand the importance of this agreement for my family and farmers all across the country as we plan for the 2019 planting and ranching season.

My family has been farming in Harrison County, Missouri, since 1840.  After market conditions, rising input costs, increased federal regulation and a reduction in trade forced us to leave the dairy business years ago, we now focus exclusively on selling black Angus bulls to other farming operations to help grow their herds.  Our customers then sell their livestock and products to our trading partners.  In other words, whether or not our customers can access foreign markets directly impacts the amount of bulls they buy from us and ultimately impacts how we and many in our community make a living.

Breeding and selling black Angus cattle has been my family’s business for well over a century, but in recent years, as farm incomes have continued to decline, I have often asked myself if I will be the last generation in my family to farm.  We’ve faced many challenges ranging from bad weather to falling commodity prices, and the prospect of our customers losing access to two of our biggest trading partners could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But just like he said he would, Trump delivered a trade agreement that gives us the certainty we need to plan for next year and keep Guernsey Farms doing what we do best, breeding best-in-class bulls.

Looking at years past, it’s easy to understand why this is such a win.  American farmers, ranchers and producers exported more than $44 billion worth of goods to Mexico and Canada in 2017 alone, and economists estimate that our trading relationship with these two countries grows the American economy by $127 billion each year.

With a personal understanding of the importance of this trade deal for rural Americans, I have spent the better part of the past year working with a coalition called Americans for Farmers and Families (AFF) to raise awareness of this issue and offer real voice to what more market access can do for our livelihoods and local economies.  We all hear politicians, economists and many others espouse their opinions on these issues, and while their voices are important, most of them have no idea the challenges actual families in rural America face.

I am proud to have been a part of this process and to have played a small role in helping Trump deliver a much-needed win for farmers across the heartland.  That said, our work is not over.

Now, it is up to Congress to bring the deal over the finish line.  Until they approve the agreement, farmers like me will not be able to recognize the enormous benefits this trade agreement provides.

Here’s the good news for lawmakers: the USMCA offers a rare opportunity for bipartisanship in Washington.  Even New York Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week that Trump “deserves praise” for his work on this critical agreement.

Casey Guernsey is a seventh-generation farmer, and a former Missouri state legislator and chairman of the Agri-Business Committee. Guernsey is a spokesperson for Americans for Farmers & Families.

To access the op-ed, please click here.