LEBANON, Ind. – Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to central Indiana Thursday.
The vice president visited Lamb Farms in Lebanon to discuss the potential impact of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on businesses and agriculture.
President Trump is touting USMCA as the replacement for NAFTA, a trade agreement that went into effect in 1994. Congress has not yet ratified the new agreement.
Pence's last official visit to his home state came in November, when he and the president rallied in support of Republican Mike Braun, who was running for the U.S. Senate at the time and eventually won.
While at Lamb Farms, farmers told the Vice President that the administrations trade war with China is having serious negative effects on their financial security.
Back and forth salvos of tariffs on exported products between the two superpowers has seen massive cutbacks in exports to China of products like soybeans and pork. Farmers say the decrease in export has caused the value of their crops to fall below cost.
"My major concern is we’re running out of time. Farmers have had several years now that’s been really tough from a financial perspective," farmer Bob Geswein said.
The trend of dropping crop value has forced some farmers to burn through capital and equity in the farm.
"That money is no longer there because we’ve used it to supplement paying bills that we didn’t recover from the value of the production," farmer Mike Beard said.
The Vice President assured the crowd that he heard their concerns, telling them the administration is doing everything they can to push the USMCA a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, through congress. Adding the deal would help alleviate some of their financial troubles.
“President Trump is fighting, to expand exports, to expand trade. But its time for congress to act and move the USMCA," Pence said.
Whether congress actually takes up the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada remains to be seen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said congress wouldn't even consider looking at the deal until Mexico changes its labor laws.
The farmers present at the event told the Vice President that while they desperately need deals with China, Canada, and Mexico to happen quickly, he and President Trump still have their support.
"Farmers are resilient, they’re tough, they’re born and bred and taught to make it happen. So they’re going to make it happen. Sometimes it’s easier to make it happen, sometimes its harder to make it happen, but they’ll make it happen," said Geswein.