TPP Is a Good Deal for U.S. Agriculture
Farmers and ranchers know a good deal. We know how to make every dollar, down to the penny, count. That’s why Farm Bureau wasted no time in looking at what the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would mean in dollars and cents on farms and ranches across America.
What’s the bottom line for agriculture with TPP? We’re looking at an expected boost in business just when farms and rural economies need it most. Farm Bureau estimates an annual increase in U.S. net farm income of $4.4 billion, compared to not passing the agreement. In spite of negative political rhetoric, the fact is that every day we wait to approve TPP we lose ground. It’s like showing up at the auction barn with a load of cattle after the last gavel has fallen. We fall behind our global competitors. We give up billions in business. And we lose out on deals that other countries are ready to make without us.
Our farm and ranch businesses lose when our nation leaves trade deals on the table that would level the playing field. American-grown and -made means quality and customers around the world know this. But high tariffs and other trade barriers put in place by countries like Japan will keep shutting out American businesses and agricultural goods if we refuse to lead the way in approving trade agreements that would move us forward.
Our farmers and ranchers need market expansion like never before. I hear this when I visit with them. Thanks to good weather and improved technology, we expect an abundant grain harvest. But this won’t yield good prices for farmers already struggling to get by. It’s no secret that farm incomes took a nosedive this year—what’s worse, incomes are expected to drop further still. TPP would increase cash receipts for a variety of farm products, including rice, corn, cotton, beef, pork, poultry, dairy, fruits and nuts, vegetables, soybeans and wheat. Overall U.S. exports would increase by $5.3 billion per year with this deal.
But those numbers don’t mean much if we hand economic leadership over to other countries like China. “Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around,” President Obama wrote recently. “The world has changed. The rules are changing with it. The United States, not countries like China, should write them.” What’s more, other countries won’t keep waiting on us for enhanced trade rules. In fact, 15 Asian countries, including China, met recently to start working out their own trade deal. And we can bet their trade deal won’t look out for American agriculture.
We live and work in a global economy today—and that’s good news for U.S. agriculture. We’re in a growth business, but if we want to keep that up into the future, we need good deals like TPP to remove trade barriers and open up new markets Today, our auction barn is global, and when the opening gavel echoes, our lawmakers need to make sure our goods are in the arena.