Vice President Mike Pence came to the Central Valley Wednesday to discuss the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. The event was part campaign rally, part policy talk.
The speech was held at the Doug and Julie Freitas & Sons Farms in Lemoore, 40 minutes south of Fresno. It was presented by America First Policies, a right-wing non-profit group. Pence was the keynote speaker to a crowd of at least 400.
“I wanted to come here to California, here in the San Joaquin Valley because you all understand the global impact of our agricultural economy,” Pence said, "and the need to have a trade deal here with our neighbors to the north and the south that really puts American agriculture first, and that's exactly what we've done.”
Pence was there to bolster enthusiasm for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA - a new version of NAFTA. He mentioned highlights of the deal, like greater access to the Canadian dairy market, and provisions for the use of biotechnology.
“I think it was kind of preaching to the choir,” said attendee Joe Cardoza. “I think a lot of us knew, we understand the foundation behind it.”
Cardoza is a corn and cotton farmer from Tulare. While he had a straw hat on in the 95 degree heat, many in attendance sported “Make America Great Again” hats, and Trump-Pence 2020 shirts.
Cardoza said it’s good to hear the president stand up for agriculture, but he’s more concerned about the trade war with China than the renegotiation of NAFTA.
The USMCA still needs to be approved by Congress in order to take effect, something Pence worries Speaker Nancy Pelosi may block. Meanwhile, the government of Mexico has already ratified the deal, and it’s now moving through the Canadian legislature.