The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
In the coming weeks, Congress has the chance to deliver Arizona farmers something we haven’t had in a while: a win. That’s because it’s expected that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA, which upgrades and updates NAFTA, will be considered for passage. It could be one of the last bills this Congress passes before the 2020 election and for Arizona it might be the most important.
Given our state’s proximity to the Mexican border, trade with our North American neighbors, particularly Mexico, isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Nearly a quarter million Arizona jobs depend on trade between those three countries. Arizona farmers rely particularly heavy on North American trade — with roughly 55% of our exports — or $800 million in goods a year — going to Mexico and Canada.
As a third-generation family farmer and organic grower of farm fresh produce with operations in the United States and Mexico, I know how important USMCA is for me. Our greenhouses in Mexico import seeds from our multinational vendors who have subsidiaries and partners in the United States. We graft and plant these seedlings in our greenhouses in Mexico. We also source other inputs such as organic fertilizers and packaging materials that are manufactured in the U.S. This is international cooperation at work.
Like others across the state of Arizona who have a supply chain that crosses the border, we depend on trade stability to be able to plan, grow and support our employees. However, my operations are facing times of turbulence and uncertainty as a result of tariffs and the trade war. We know that to survive as farmers, we must all work together.
The same should be said for Republicans and Democrats in Congress on this particular trade deal. Politics needs to be set aside when the economic well-being of our farmers and overall economy is at stake.
Arizona’s Congressional delegation could be the key to working across party lines to get USMCA passed. Our representatives have shown a willingness to put the good of our state before partisanship when it matters most. They understand the importance of cross-border trade. And perhaps most importantly, they understand the overall importance of our bilateral relationship with Mexico, which directly impacts our 1,200 employees in both countries.
As a farmer in both countries, I fear that any threat against free trade will jeopardize the future of our business and the thriving, empowered communities that have grown around our farms. The cooperation of trade is real, but we have to make sure our stories are told.
I come from a family of visionary growers, who with passion and dedication have led farming operations for over 90 years. We have built a brand around our vision of continuous improvement along the supply chain not only for the wellbeing of our families, but that of our workers and consumers. We provide employment in communities across North America. I’m proud of what this means, and what it will mean to the next generation of leadership on our farm.
But, in order for these cross-border success stories to continue to prosper we need agreements like USMCA that set the rules of the road. For my business, our employees and farmers across Arizona, I am urging our congressional delegation to fight in the coming weeks to pass this critical agreement.