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Wisconsin reacts to new trade deal

Dairy cow at Zirbel Dairy Farms in Brown County, September 26, 2019 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Dairy cow at Zirbel Dairy Farms in Brown County, September 26, 2019 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
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GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A Green Bay-based dairy cooperative says President Trump's signing of the USMCA is a "tremendous victory."

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative says it has advocated for the deal which updates the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

Some highlights of it include giving American farmers extra access to foreign markets and Canada opening its market to American milk, cream, butter and cheese.

In return, the U.S. will expand access to its market for Canadian dairy and sugar.

Edge’s president, Brody Stapel, a dairy farmer in eastern Wisconsin, said, “The outlook is far brighter today for farmers’ businesses, families and employees, and our rural communities because of this historic agreement, which also benefits so many other parts of America’s economy. We have reason to celebrate."

The trade deal also creates a list of cheeses that Mexico and the U.S. agree can be marketed in each country without restrictions.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, called the deal a win for the state. He says he hopes this trade deal is the first of many agreements that will benefit Wisconsin residents and reduce the need for help.

Congress signed off on the bipartisan bill late last year.

Mexico's legislature has approved the bill and Canada's lawmakers are expected to do so soon, which is necessary for the agreement to take effect.

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, what President Trump signed was quite different from what the president first proposed.

"We were able to make vast improvements. If we weren't, we would not have been able to pass the bill," Pelosi said.

However, some farmers say the deal might be too little too late.

“Donald Trump’s trade policies cannot undo the damage he brought to our community. He thought he could buy us off with bailouts and now thinks he can pull the wool over our eyes with these new trade deals, but it’s too little too late. We’re not going to forget how broke his promises to us. If he actually came out and spoke with us dairy farmers he’d know this isn’t going to get us over the hump," said dairy farmers, Tina and Duane Hinchley.

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According to Gov. Tony Evers, between 2011 and 2018, Wisconsin lost about a third of its dairy farms, leading the nation in farm bankruptcies.

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