Passage of USMCA is a Win for the U.S. Seed Industry

  • On January 16, 2020

Bethany Shively
(703) 837-8140

Passage of USMCA is a Win for the U.S. Seed Industry

Alexandria, Va.—January 16, 2020—Today’s bipartisan passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is great news for the U.S. seed industry.

“Mexico and Canada are the two largest markets for U.S. seed, with 2018 exports combining for a total of $630 million,” said American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) President & CEO Andrew LaVigne. “Today’s passage of USMCA provides much-need certainty as well as some key reforms to ensure continued open market access to these two critical trading partners.”

The USMCA will benefit the U.S. seed industry in a number of specific ways. The agreement provides key provisions to strengthen intellectual property rights, including the requirement that Mexico adopt UPOV 91 requirements. It recognizes the importance of plant breeding innovation, including newer methods like gene editing, by including language to enhance information exchange and cooperation around agricultural biotechnology trade issues.

Additionally, USMCA emphasizes the need for transparency and science-based approaches to phytosanitary measures, and includes a new consultation process to resolve disputes between countries in order to keep trade moving and reduce non-tariff barriers. The movement of seed globally for research, development and multiplication is critical for the introduction of new, high performing varieties to America’s farmers and consumers. Many American seed companies send seed stock to countries like Mexico for research and multiplication before it’s returned to the U.S. for further processing and packaging for American farmers or gardeners to purchase and plant.

“While these provisions do not immediately enter into force upon the signing of the agreement, they provide an important regulatory framework and set of commitments for cooperation between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada,” said LaVigne. “Trade is absolutely essential for the livelihood of American farmers and the U.S. economy at large, especially when it comes to our neighbors to the North and South, and we commend the Administration for their effort to improve this agreement.”


Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) represents over 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America. ASTA is the leading voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world. The association’s broad membership offers varieties from alfalfa to zucchini and all production types including conventional, organic and biotech. ASTA promotes the development of better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life.