17 Apr 2016 - We Need Voices to Push for TPP

This past week, more than 220 food and agriculture groups sent a letter to the leadership on Capitol Hill. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, among others, received the letter that said “ . . . you must support the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, because it is vitally important, not just to agriculture in the United States, but to industry as well.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation “the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement would boost net farm income in the United States by $4.4-billion. USDA estimates that every $1-billion of U.S. agricultural exports in 2014 provided approximately 7,550 American jobs throughout the economy.” According to USDA, “U.S. food and agricultural exports reached a record $150-billion in 2014, supporting 1,132,000 full-time civilian jobs, which included 808,000 jobs in the non-farm sector. The agricultural export surplus has helped offset some of the non-agricultural trade deficit.”

Despite all of that, it is in trouble. It needs approval in Congress. President Obama wants it, in addition to the agricultural and food groups, but it looks like he will not get his wish that the agreement be signed before he leaves office, because as you look at the presidential election candidates, I don’t find any support for agricultural trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and I don’t see Congress doing anything this summer besides playing politics

While she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton did support it. Now that she’s a presidential candidate, she does not. Bernie Sanders not only does not support it, he wants to cancel existing agreements like NAFTA. I am not sure that Donald Trump really knows a great deal about agricultural trade and its importance to the economy. Ohio Governor John Kasich does understand the importance of agriculture and trade agreements, but his chances of becoming President are very slim.

So that makes our role more important than ever. We must increase our pressure to let members of Congress know how we feel about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement. I realize another dozen countries around the Pacific must also approve, but I think it is extremely important that U.S. agriculture be included in an agreement that will conduct 40% of the world’s agricultural trade.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.