Seed World

Passage of USMCA is a Win for the U.S. Seed Industry

Yesterday’s (Jan. 15, 2020) bipartisan passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is great news for the U.S. seed industry, according to the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).

“Mexico and Canada are the two largest markets for U.S. seed, with 2018 exports combining for a total of $630 million,” says ASTA President & CEO Andrew LaVigne. “Today’s passage of USMCA provides much-need certainty as well as some key reforms to ensure continued open market access to these two critical trading partners.”

The USMCA will benefit the U.S. seed industry in a number of specific ways. The agreement provides key provisions to strengthen intellectual property rights, including the requirement that Mexico adopt UPOV 91 requirements. It recognizes the importance of plant breeding innovation, including newer methods like gene editing, by including language to enhance information exchange and cooperation around agricultural biotechnology trade issues.

Additionally, USMCA emphasizes the need for transparency and science-based approaches to phytosanitary measures, and includes a new consultation process to resolve disputes between countries in order to keep trade moving and reduce non-tariff barriers. The movement of seed globally for research, development and multiplication is critical for the introduction of new, high performing varieties to America’s farmers and consumers. Many American seed companies send seed stock to countries like Mexico for research and multiplication before it’s returned to the U.S. for further processing and packaging for American farmers or gardeners to purchase and plant.

“While these provisions do not immediately enter into force upon the signing of the agreement, they provide an important regulatory framework and set of commitments for cooperation between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada,” says LaVigne. “Trade is absolutely essential for the livelihood of American farmers and the U.S. economy at large, especially when it comes to our neighbors to the North and South, and we commend the Administration for their effort to improve this agreement.”