Sen. Tina Smith touts benefits of trade deal for Minnesota dairy farmers

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FOLEY — U.S. Sen. Tina Smith pulled out her phone to take a picture of silos backed by a bright blue sky Saturday at a dairy farm north of Foley. 

“It’s such a beautiful morning,” Smith said after meeting with farmers and leaders in Minnesota agriculture to talk about the U.S.’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. 

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed the U.S. House in December, and Smith expects it to pass through the Senate in several weeks after stopovers in various committees.  

The trade deal will replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in 1989. Under the new agreement Canada will open to more American dairy products.

Agreements can always be improved, but it’s good “getting the uncertaintly off the table,” Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish told Smith in the dining room at Carol and Steve Anderson’s farmsted. 

Stability is so important, agreed Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. 

Dairy farmers have faced many challenges recently, including years of low milk prices. In Minnesota 10% of dairies closed from 2017 to 2018. 

And we’re not the only state struggling, as Wisconsin lost 10% of its dairies from 2018 to 2019.

RELATED: Struggling Wisconsin dairy farmers building a future with hazelnuts, specialty milk, goats and creative thinking

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