The National Farmers Union says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement could be improved to reduce health care costs and protect rural jobs before it is sent to Congress for approval. In a letter sent to Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, NFU President Roger Johnson emphasized the value of trade agreements to agricultural communities.
However, farmers are becoming more dependent on off-farm employment, according to Johnson, who urges congressional leaders to include proposals to address labor, the environment and strengthening enforcement standards. Johnson also expressed concern about the implications of USMCA for rural health care, as USMCA would grant pharmaceutical companies marketing exclusivity for biologic drugs for a minimum of 10 years.
Johnson says that provision could “worsen the problem of increased healthcare costs for farmers. Johnson says all Americans “should have access to effective health care, but given the added risks of agricultural professions, it is particularly critical that legislators work to improve coverage and affordability in rural areas.”