WASHINGTON —- Two Iowans are playing key roles in today’s US Senate Finance Committee Hearing on the importance of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or U-S-M-C-A.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley chairs the panel and will preside over the meeting. One of the witnesses is a former Iowa governor who served eight years as U-S ag secretary during the Obama administration — and he’s now president and C-E-O of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Tom Vilsack will be testifying at today’s hearing and will speak to how the U.S. dairy industry stands to greatly benefit from the passage of this trade agreement,” Grassley says. “His experience and insight, I think, will be very powerful as Congress moves towards approving USMCA.”

In 2017, Grassley says more than one-third of all U-S exports went to Mexico and Canada, goods worth more than half-a-trillion dollars, in addition to another 91-billion dollars in services.  “For Iowa, our share is $6.6 billion in exports to Mexico and Canada and that supported 130,000 jobs,” Grassley says. “USMCA is critical for Iowa, for rural America, and obviously for our entire nation.”

The trade deal may go before the U-S House as soon as early September, according to Grassley. He issued a tweet on Monday that he’d met with the U-S Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, also a former Iowa governor. Grassley says Branstad is very upbeat that trade talks are resuming between the U-S and China. “Just a general feeling that something good can be accomplished,” Grassley says. “If it is accomplished, it’s going to be a very good thing, I think, because the president said he’s not going to settle for something less than a strong agreement.”

Grassley says the “vibes” he got from the chat with Branstad left him feeling “very hopeful” about the situation with China.