Listening to the political chatter these days, you’d think the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is about as popular with the American public as an angry wasp buzzing around a church supper. That’s probably because the Pacific trade deal has been repeatedly swatted around by the presidential candidates, pundits and, of course, anti-trade activists.
But like a lot of things in the political world these days, the chatter against the TPP doesn’t really reflect the facts.
Actually, according to several polls, trade and the TPP are popular with Americans. A new poll, by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, is a good example. It shows solid support for trade in general, and for the 12-nation TPP.
Support for the TPP is actually quite strong, with 60 percent in favor of passing the deal. And interestingly, even though Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made opposition to the TPP one of his core arguments in the Democratic primary, more than 70 percent of Democrats are in favor of TPP passage compared to Republicans at 58 percent, according to the poll.
Keeping up the pressure
Polls like this one undercut the position of TPP opponents and underscore how critical it is for farmers to continue putting pressure on Congress to approve the TPP. We all need to keep making the case for the TPP, as the Iowa Farm Bureau Ag Leaders did recently.
Time is short, and the stakes are high. So it’s important to remind lawmakers in meetings, letters and emails that TPP is the key to increasing market access for American farmers and increasing exports at a time of severely struggling commodity prices. It’s also important to point out that increased exports will create lots of jobs, especially in a farm-based state like Iowa. Be sure that lawmakers know that TPP is especially important for younger farmers, who need long-term access to markets as they build their future in agriculture.
Also stress to lawmakers that failure to pass the TPP will hand our competitors a golden opportunity to strike their own deals, which could curtail American ag products for decades to come.
And if you need a closing argument, mention the polls that show widespread support for trade and the TPP.
Strong poll numbers, as we all know, are something that politicians just can’t resist.