FOLEY -- Minnesota Senator Tina Smith visited a dairy farm in Benton County on Saturday morning. A discussion on the evolution of agriculture and trade policy took place at Carol and Steve Anderson’s farm in Foley.

The proposed United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) that is expected to come across the Senate floor soon is a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has been in place since 1994.

USMCA was signed in 2018 but has yet to be ratified. Senator Smith says the new agreement could help local farmers in a number of ways.

I'm really glad about the provisions that will help dairy, especially by opening up markets in Mexico and also by addressing some of the issues in Canada around the way that they were producing and over-producing dry milk products. I also am really glad that this provision doesn't include protections. It will help in the long run to lower prescription drug costs in the United States, so all of those things will benefit Minnesota dairy farmers and Minnesota farmers across the state.

Sarah Mueller, WJON

The meeting also was an opportunity for the senator to hear about other concerns coming out of the central Minnesota farming community including high healthcare costs, a need for immigration labor reform, and helping displaced workers.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, there are currently about 2500 dairy farms operating in the state, down 300 from last year.

Sarah Mueller, WJON
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