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Mike McMahon is a dairy farmer in Homer. His parents started farming there in 1957.
UTICA OBSERVER DISPATCH – March 3rd 2019
across upstate New York there is nothing more important Congress can do than
stabilize our relationship with our Northern neighbor by quickly passing the
U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.
modernizes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and it’s essential
to protecting the ability of New York farmers to export goods to Mexico and
Canada. Canada is the second largest market for US products being exported, and
Mexico is the third largest.
I am watching
this issue unfold from my dairy farm in the Cortland County community of Homer,
where I manage 800 milk cows on 2,300 beautiful acres. Right now, we are
dealing with milk prices that are in the fifth year of being below the cost of
production. What that means is we are selling milk for $16 dollars per 100
pounds of milk, but our cash cost is running about $16.50 per 100 pounds of
milk. That cash cost doesn’t include our expenditures for things such as new
New York dairy
farmers need to export about 17 percent of the milk we produce to balance the
domestic and international markets. Most of our milk goes to Mexico, but that
export is down about 15 percent this year. Making all this worse is the fact
that milk prices in the U.S. are tied to how much cheese the government has in
storage. Right now, the country has 1.4 billion pounds of cheese on hand while
40 million Americans are in a food deficit situation. That number is depressing
are troubling, they are also hard reminders that American dairy farmers simply
must have access to trade partners in Mexico and Canada. It’s also critical
that our dairy processors are also able to access these markets. An entire
supply chain counts on it.
As milk prices
fall, Congress will soon be debating the passage of USMCA. The discussion could
not be coming at a more critical time as the on-going trade war with our
trusted partners in Mexico and Canada has resulted in pain on both sides of the
borders. Uncertainty coupled with tariffs have seriously hurt New York farmers
who work every day to create jobs and economic growth. The tariffs or better
yet taxes, also impact the price of our equipment and other critical inputs
which means other members of our community are impacted.
Farmers need a
win and we need it soon. We need Congress to approve USMCA so we can provide
some market stability and make strategic decisions about the future. We need
Congress to put aside differences and act in a bipartisan fashion to protect
the long-term trade relationships that have been built in North America over
Time is of the
essence because as bad as all this seems there are worse options on the
horizon. The worst case scenario happens if the US fails to pass the USMCA and
leaves NAFTA all together. The impact of that would be catastrophic with New
York seeing a 15 percent overall drop in exports and a loss of 117,000 jobs.
This would devastate the market for the $2.4 billion dollars in products that
New York is exporting to Canada each year, and the $859 million in New York
products going to Mexico.
In Homer and
dozens of other small farming communities across New York, we believe our
elected officials in Washington, D.C. need to fight to approve this agreement
and do away with the punitive tariffs. Our state’s economy is inextricably
linked to strong trading relationships with Canada and Mexico and our farmers’
livelihoods depend on it.
Please take a moment and call your member of Congress to remind them
that hard working New York farm families are counting on them. Hundreds of
small dairy farmers in New York are on the verge of shutting down. It’s time we
all stand up and make our voices heard.
March 5, 2019
February 26, 2019