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“I feel right at home.” Vice President Mike Pence praises USMCA on Onalaska dairy farm

Kaitlyn Riley

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ONALASKA, Wis. — Making a campaign stop in Wisconsin, Vice President Mike Pence visited Morning Star Dairy in Onalaska to discuss the newly enacted trade deal with the States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA).

Pence sat down for a round-table discussion after touring the family farm owned by John and Barbara Schaller.

John and Barbara Schaller welcomed Vice President Mike Pence to their farm outside Onalaska on Friday.

“I feel right at home,” Pence said about Friday’s visit. “I’m just a small town guy from Southern Indiana. We didn’t have dairy cattle, but we had about 100 head of cattle, and it is great to be on this wonderful farm.”

Acknowledging the physical, emotional and financial strain the current pandemic has created for the country, Pence thanked farmers for continuing to work through the COVID-19 outbreak.

“American farmers came through and kept food on the table,” Pence said. “I never fail to be inspired at the way that American agriculture responded from the farm to the grocery store truckers and in between.”

He pointed to assistance made available to farmers.

Pence said President Donald Trump made more than $19 billion available, including $1.1 billion that has already gone to dairy farms across America.

According to Pence, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided more than 86,000 loans to Wisconsin businesses, including Morning Star Dairy, to help keep workers on the payroll.

As a trade deal that was negotiated before the pandemic hit the U.S., the USMCA’s start date on July 1 came and went quietly among Coronavirus headlines.

Pence said a big win for dairy farmers is the end of Canada’s Class Six and Class Seven milk pricing system. The program subsidized certain dairy products, making them more appealing than American dairy.

Pence said that term of the agreement goes into effect in six months. Additionally, Canada will also have to keep the price of skim milk at least as high as America’s prices.

“We leveled the playing field for American dairy,” Pence said. “Because of the USMCA, we predict within six years, the United States is actually going to increase our exports by 50,000 metric tons of milk, 12,000 metric tons of cheese, 10,000 metric tons of cream, and the list goes on.”

As part of Pence’s visit to Wisconsin, he also spoke at Ripon College. The city of Ripon calls itself the birthplace of the Republican Party.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in both radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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