CONGRESSMAN John Moolenaar met on Wednesday, Jan. 22 with a group of representatives from the Shiawassee County Farm Bureau to discuss trade, immigration, redistricting and a wide range of other topics. The congressman was also interested to hear what the group of farmers believed he should focus on in the coming year. The meeting was held at Sheridan Realty & Auction Co. in Owosso.
“One of the challenges we’ve faced in mid-Michigan, in addition to the weather, has been the uncertainty in terms of trade policy,” shared Congressman Moolenaar, R-Midland. “And I think, in the past week, we’ve seen a major step forward in that regard. The USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) will finally go into effect, and that will provide stability going forward. It should open up some new markets for dairy, especially in Canada, which is really huge. Canada still has to ratify the agreement, but we should be able to implement the new agreement soon.
“I also think the new China trade agreement is going to be very positive,” continued Moolenaar. “China has agreed to buy $200 billion of American goods, including $50 billion in agricultural goods, such as soy beans, pork and other goods produced here in Michigan. This is really good news for us here in the 4th District, and it sends a message that we can come to agreements on trade deals, which was kind of up in the air. We have to hold China to the agreement, which is always a challenge, but in terms of where we were a year ago, I think there is finally some clarity.”
Congressman Moolenaar also spoke briefly about how the new trade agreements will open up opportunities with Europe and India, which the congressman reported was also upcoming. When questioned about how the USMCA might help solve immigration issues at the southern border, Moolenaar explained that the two issues were not specifically connected, but he expressed his optimism that immigration reform is on the right track.
“We are making a lot of progress stemming illegal immigration,” shared Moolenaar. “The Trump administration is working very hard with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and others on this. Guatemala has really stepped up to an agreement. The whole goal is to keep people in their home country, or if there is some kind of problem where they have to leave, to have them go to the next closest country for asylum, not have them go through two other countries to try and come here. There’s been a lot progress made, and now Mexico is trying to enforce that and keep some of the refugees coming from Central America from attempting to cross the border into our country.
“We want to try to help those countries,” continued Moolenaar. “Ultimately, we want good economies there, so that people can live and survive and not feel like they have to come here. In these countries, there have been cases of corruption, so it is important to President Trump, if we are going to give aid, there needs to be some accountability that the money is being used for the correct purposes. I think we are making a lot of progress, but there are still a lot of challenges.”
Shown during the lunch meeting on Wednesday are (from left) Bob and Maria Carlin; Congressman Moolenaar; Will Wilson; Ashton Bortz, Congressman Moolenaar’s district chief of staff; Melissa Higbee and Donna Kanan from the Shiawassee Conservation District; Ken and Mark Kirkman; and Tim Kiesling, the president of the Shiawassee County Farm Bureau.