The U.S.-Mexico-Canada international trade agreement (USMCA) passed the U.S. Senate on an 89-10 vote and is headed for the president's signature. The new trade agreement replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement.
For nursery growers, the agreement will assure continued access to Oregon's top export market for ornamental plant material (Canada) and Christmas trees (Mexico), while preserving measures to prevent the spread of plant pests and pathogens.
"This was one of our top federal agenda items for 2020, so we're off to a great start," OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said last Friday at a press conference in downtown Portland. He mentioned Oregon nurseries’ large economic footprint, with close to $1 billion in sales annually. As of 2018, Oregon averages 9,150 jobs in the nursery and Christmas tree sectors throughout the year, with an annual payroll of $332 million and an average wage of $36,286, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
The press conference was hosted by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). Wyden said he worked to improve the original bill and include more enforcement, as well as more protection for workers. He said it also has strong provisions in the digital realm. Both labor and business were supportive, he added.
“Trade is responsible for about one out of every four jobs in the state of Oregon, and the trade jobs often pay better, because they have a high level of value added,” Wyden said.