Utica-area Congress member Claudia Tenney says the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico is not perfect, but is an improvement. The USMCA replaces NAFTA, fulfilling one of President Trump’s campaign promises. Tenney says the new deal will offer a big boost to Upstate New York’s dairy industry. She’s already hearing from farmers who are eager for some relief.
“We have an oversupply, the prices have been going down, and it’s been so unsustainable for dairy farms. We’ve been losing dairy farms almost on a weekly bases in New York, and so this is going to breed new life to our dairy farmers…give them an opportunity to continue to produce and sell milk and to grow their herds, so they can actually produce more milk.”
Tenney says dairy is crucial to the state’s agriculture industry as one of the nation’s top producers. She says it’s important to think of dairy farms as another small business that needs to be protected.
“Our region is dominated by small businesses…the vast majority of people who work in this community work for a small business, or they own it, and so we need to continue to fight for our small business community, so they can continue to thrive. They create almost 70% of the new jobs, and dairy farmers are part of that.”
Tenney expects the new agreement to benefit smaller farms the most because they have higher costs and less volume.
In general, she says the bipartisan nature of the agreement will benefit the region’s businesses and workers.
“There were a lot of Democrats involved in this process, so it was a bipartisan issue. They don’t see that it’s going to be much of a controversy, and so the less politics, the less government, that’s in this, the greater opportunities it is for our business community, for our employees and for our middle income workers to get back to work, so I think the bipartisan nature of it is going to be something that’s going to be beneficial in the long run.”
One of the Democrats involved in the process was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer says in a statement that the president deserves praise for taking steps to fix NAFTA, but cautions celebration until he can review the deal’s details on dairy and labor.
As for Tenney, she is up for re-election in November and is locked in a close race with Democratic challenger Anthony Brindisi.
Brindisi said in a relase that the trade deal coudl potentially help farmers. He criticized Tenney as not working with all farmers in the district, saying they need a strong advocate in Congress. He added agriculture is vital to Upstate New York.