DES MOINES, Iowa -- Two percent, one percent and skim milk plastic bottles poured past two top Iowa leaders with their minds focused on where the American dairy industry's products will end up. Those two leaders toured Anderson Erickson Dairy in Des Moines Monday.
"The countryside is looking for a hopeful sign, a positive sign as we are dealing with a number of trade issues," said U.S. Dairy Export Council President Tom Vilsack, Iowa's former two-term Democratic governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
Vilsack and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, a New Hartford Republican, put out a bipartisan call for action for Congress to approve the North American trade deal known as the USMCA. The United States Mexico Canada Agreement would impact dairy, automobile, manufacturing and numerous other industries across the continent as it would set pricing structures, import and export guidelines, wages and environmental standards.
President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to the framework of the USMCA last November, but Congress has failed so far to ratify it.
Grassley believes that Congress needs to find agreement by November. "Next year is a presidential election year," Grassley explained.
Election years add an additional level of politics into any potential deal-making, so Grassley wants resolution before 2020 begins. "Let's say that if it gets to November and it’s not done," Grassley added, "I get very nervous."
Anderson Erickson doesn't export its dairy products, as it is considered a smaller operation in the overall U.S. dairy production. But President/CEO Miriam Erickson Brown said that she stood with Grassley and Vilsack out of solidarity for her industry. "We do not export dairy products, but we understand that trade is essential to the health and sustainability of the entire dairy industry," Erickson Brown said.