US union says trans-Pacific trade deal will fail farmers

The full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was released this week. Roger Johnson President of the US National Farmers Union called it as bad as feared.

“After years of negotiating in secret for an enormous agreement guarded from the public under lock and key, the text of the TPP has at last been made public. Unfortunately, it appears to be as bad for America’s family farmers and ranchers as we had feared,” he said. “This agreement has been peddled to farmers and ranchers as a potential goldmine for farm exports. But as with other trade deals, these benefits are likely to be overshadowed by increased competition from abroad, paired with an uneven playing field that will not only reduce revenues for farmers and ranchers but will also speed the loss of U.S. jobs.

“This agreement looks to be particularly bad for the nation’s ranchers. The beef export opportunities are very modest. Japan included a snapback provision that will allow them to fully reinstate the current high levels of tariffs if it deems that beef imports are hurting its domestic farmers. Japan’s protection, coupled with the very generous access the U.S. gave the rest of the world, will likely push down domestic prices.

“While NFU will continue to analyze the text of the agreement, we already know TPP includes no enforceable language to address currency manipulation, an effective maneuver used by our competitors to immediately tilt the playing field in their favor, even after signing an agreement of this scope and magnitude, having the potential to completely wipe out any gains.

“Several of the countries that are eager to ratify this agreement have recently manipulated their currencies and nothing is stopping them from doing this again. Additionally, the agreement does not have the goal or the ability to reduce our debilitating trade deficit.

“If we enter this agreement, our trade deficit, already exceeding $500 billion per year, will continue to rise, not fall. This enormous deficit will continue to drag down our economy, export even more US jobs and dash the hopes for coming generations.

“Given that this deal has been granted Fast Track authority, there is no alternative other than to vote this down.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement regarding the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

“The release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an important step forward in the process to make this landmark agreement for U.S. agriculture a reality. The text confirms that this agreement provides new market access across the board for America’s farmers and ranchers by lowering tariffs and eliminating other barriers, and will boost exports and support jobs in our rural economies.

At the end of the day, TPP is about opportunity. The agreement will advance U.S. economic interests in a critical region that accounts for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. It will also help the United States respond to the regional and bilateral trade agreements that are already in place or are being negotiated by competitor countries. This high-standard agreement will expand U.S. agricultural exports, generate more rural economic activity, and support higher-paying American jobs. I encourage our farmers and ranchers to take a look at what’s in the deal for them, and I hope that after a period of consideration and review in the coming months, Congress will move quickly to pass this agreement.

While the release of the text is a critical benchmark, there is still much work to be done. We look forward to a discussion across the country about the details of this agreement, including the simple fact that TPP removes barriers to trade in food and agriculture products, which is critical for the economic health of U.S. agriculture and rural communities. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of our borders, we cannot afford to let this opportunity slip away.”

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