USMCA trade deal will help Arkansas poultry exports, expert says


SUMMERS, Ark. (KNWA) — Dan Schwieder is a Northwest Arkansas poultry farmer. He owns some chicken houses in Summers, and he said he’s happy about a new trade deal set to affect state farmers.

“I think that all of us in the farming community would be glad to know that there’s agreement across countries and to know that we can export what we’re producing,” Schwieder said.

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will clear the Senate in the coming days, according to legislators. The trade pact serves as an update to NAFTA, which encouraged trade between the three major North American countries since the mid-1990s.

“It changes some rules on trade,” said Mervin Jebaraj, a University of Arkansas economist. “We do export a lot of chicken and eggs to these countries and rice, as well. So, this provides some certainty and price stability because you know these markets are gonna be there.”

Mainly, the new pact will benefit Arkansas as a whole, Jebaraj said, but major exports like poultry coming out of Northwest Arkansas will also see the good. Poultry is the state’s leading agricultural industry, according to the Poultry Federation.

When the U.S. slapped tariffs on Canada and Mexico in 2018, there was fear of a possible withdrawal from NAFTA, meaning there’d be nothing guaranteeing price consistency in international trade.

“Prices are not gonna go up because of tariffs [with USCMA],” Jebaraj said.

Schwieder said he’s happy to know Canadians and Mexicans will still eat Arkansas chicken and eggs for years to come.

“The companies benefit as a whole, all of them, in something like this,” Schwieder said. “I’m glad to hear about it.”

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