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PLEASANT PRAIRIE - The message was clear — get the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) passed. It was clear in the panel discussion at an America First Policies event at Uline Warehouse in Pleasant Prairie on Oct. 23. It was clear in the message Vice President Mike Pence delivered after that discussion.

Pence called the USMCA a “state of the art trade agreement,” that will increase jobs across Wisconsin and the country, in everything from manufacturing to farming to protecting intellectual property. “It will promote innovation and business,” he added.

Pence said he was “around a lot when the President negotiated the agreement, in his typically subtle way,” which lead to many “interesting phone calls.”

But in a “little agreement” involving dairy and Canada, Pence said, “This president stood strong and fought hard for dairy and got a win in the USMCA.”

Pence took shots at the Democratic party and told the crowd packing the Uline Warehouse, that they could “call the Democrats in Congress and say Wisconsin wants the USMCA.”

“We need the USMCA. We need it this year,” said Pence. “We’ve got to get this done.”

Saying USMCA is a “great opportunity,” and would be “great for Wisconsin,” Pence added, “In these divided times I think it shows the world that we can get important things done. ... President Trump drove a hard bargain with Mexico and Canada.”

“We know that we need to finish the job. That’s the number one protocol that they need to do in Washington,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau board member Dave Daniels, who participated in the panel discussion on the new trade agreement before Pence took the podium. As a dairyman, Daniels said he would like to see USMCA and other trade deals “move along.”

Part owner of Mighty Grand Dairy, LLC, in Union Grove with 575 dairy cows and crops on 1,100 acres on the farm his grandfather started in 1933.

The panel was moderated by Curtis Ellis with America First Policies. Daniels, along with Congressman Glen Grothman and Zachary Mottl, chief alignment officer at Atlas Tools & Die Works discussed the need for the USMCA to be passed in a timely manner.

“Farmers depend on free and fair trade with our North American trading partners,” said Daniels. “The agriculture community is calling on Congress to pass the USMCA in a timely manner.”

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Executive Director of Governmental Relations Karen Gefvert attended the event, hoping for a “good dialogue about why Wisconsin farmers care about the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, why it’s important for Wisconsin, especially for our dairy industry.”

“Wisconsin exports a lot of our agricultural goods outside of the United States and so USMCA is a great thing for Wisconsin agriculture,” Gefvert said.

According to Gefvert, farm bureau members want to see the trade agreement completed.

“Process isn’t necessarily what farmers care about, they want to see results. So we continue to push and to advocate for USMCA to get it up into the House and to have a vote,” said Gefvert. “Trade is important for farmers. Now more than ever, in this economic situation, we want trade.”

USMCA would update the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — that took effect in 1994. NAFTA paved the way for increased trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, but critics say it has cost U.S. jobs — 700,000 of them, according to a study cited by America First Policies.

The successor trade agreement has been approved by leaders of the three countries but is awaiting a vote in Congress.

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or carol.spaeth-bauer@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.spaethbauer.

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