Hillary Clinton, in a further break with President Obama on trade, says she opposes the Trans Pacific Trade deal worth billions in new sales for agriculture “before and after” the election. In a questionnaire-response to Oregon labor unions and environmental groups, Clinton has signaled she will oppose a TPP vote during a lame duck Congress, which is a vote President Obama is pushing for before he leaves office.
American Farm Bureau Executive Director Dale Moore says Clinton’s renewed opposition, and that of her opponents, doesn’t help.
“It certainly makes it more difficult. It does not make it unique because I can’t think of a trade agreement that hasn’t gone through, whether it’s during a presidential election year or an odd-numbered year or a mid-term election year, anytime a trade agreement comes up it is suggested to whole host of political winds from both sides of the aisle.”
Moore points out that President Obama, when he was a Senator running for President, opposed President Bush’s trade agreements, but ended up revising and pressing for them. So did Hillary Clinton, as Obama’s Secretary of State, but her newfound opposition may give TPP backers more reason to push for a vote now, not after a new administration takes over.
“If we had our preference, we would have it done right now. But that’s not the reality. The reality is the most likely scenario for this year would be during a potential lame duck session, post-election, and so from that standpoint that’s what we’re gearing out strategy to.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the administration is working with GOP leaders in Congress on the timing of a possible vote. But the Washington Post reports Earnest says pro-trade lawmakers may be running out of time.
The American Farm Bureau is also supporting a trade deal between the European Union and the United States. Farm Bureau participated at the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations stakeholder session in New York City last week and Farm Bureau economist Veronica Nigh says the trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the U.S. is vital to agriculture.
“Trade agreements are merely a way where we try to lower those barriers so the U.S. can sell more of our products which increases employment and helps ensure that we have longevity over the long haul.”
American trade longevity is dependent on finding a deal that is beneficial to the nation’s farmers and ranchers, as well as consumers.
“For growers we always think about reaching more customers, lowering barriers and making us more competitive, which increases demand and increases the prices that we’ll receive for our goods. For consumers, it gives consumers a much wider variety of products to choose from.”
Nigh says that while the current administration, as well as Farm Bureau, hopes to come to an agreement soon, Farm Bureau remains focused on finding the best deal possible for members and the entire agriculture industry.
“We’re really out there advocating for a strong agreement that reduces barriers and that we’re not going to sacrifice getting a deal and end up with an agreement that we’re not proud of.”
Sources: NAFB News Service and AFBF