Indiana Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation are pressing hard for quick congressional action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Getting any legislation passed during an election year is tough, but especially for a trade deal that is opposed by Labor Unions. The thinking by farm groups, which overwhelmingly support the trade agreement, is that waiting until after the election may make the deal harder to get through Congress. Chris Galen, with the National Milk Producers Federation, “The longer we wait the more support we get, but also the more opposition we get. Hillary Clinton is against the deal, Bernie Sanders is against the deal, and Donald Trump is against the deal. If we wait, we have someone in the White House who is not in favor of the trade agreement.”
Thus, lobbying efforts are underway at both the state and national level. Indiana Farm Bureau national policy advisor Kyle Cline met with staff members from Rep. Todd Rokita’s office to discuss trade, specifically TPP. Hoosier farm groups have also been pressing Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, who has not taken a stand on the issue.
The AFBF is pushing the trade agreement in a series of meetings with lawmakers this week in Washington. Special attention will be paid to lawmakers on the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means committees, according to Dave Salmonsen, senior director for congressional relations for AFBF.
On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall will host a national media call discussing benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). On that same day, the American Farm Bureau will release an economic analysis of TPP. TPP levels the playing field for American workers and businesses, increasing exports, and supporting higher-paying jobs nationwide. Countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently account for 42 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports, totaling approximately $63 billion. By removing unfair trade barriers – including over 18,000 international taxes and tariffs – this agreement increases demand for American exports such as meat, dairy, fruits, and grains and creates pathways for farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses to compete in a growing global economy.
U.S. Grains Council Chairman Alan Tiemann said, if the U.S. does not ratify this agreement, U.S. farmers will be left out of a good deal of trade in Asia, ”These other 12 nations will set up their own trade deals, and the US will be left out.” Tiemann says the TPP is a great benefit to removing tariffs and opening markets for grain producers.