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Missouri legislators open special session

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, presides over a special session in the Missouri Senate on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, as lawmakers gather and prepare for votes during the session later this week. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

On Nov. 30, President Donald Trump, then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, upgrading and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement. This new agreement includes changes for several different industries, including Missouri’s top industry, agriculture.

Agriculture provides Missouri more than 400,000 jobs, covers 28.3 million acres of farmland on nearly 100,000 farms, and contributes $88 billion to our state's economy.

The new agreement is an important step for the United States to take to ensure American trade interests are protected and supported. It will provide our farmers and agriculture producers more trade opportunities and improved phytosanitary measures.

In March, I joined 24 other lieutenant governors in signing a letter to President Trump expressing our support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement because of the positive improvements it will provide North American trade.

Key provisions would modify aspects of trade within the soybean, corn, pork, dairy, beef and wheat industries — each of which are included in the top 10 of Missouri’s agriculture exports to Canada and Mexico. The agreement would strengthen measures to protect animals from disease, as well as consumers from contamination. It would improve transparency for importing commodities, advance science-based decision-making, enhance the equivalency of measures, all while respecting each country’s right to protect animal, human and plant welfare.

U.S. agriculture is growing at a higher rate than domestic demand, and many rural Missouri communities depend on agriculture exports for stability. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would ensure these communities thrive under these new trade provisions.

As a farmer, I know how important accessible markets are for family farms. I look forward to the future of our state under this agreement and how it will allow agricultural-dependent states, like Missouri, to continue to move forward.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe • Jefferson City