Top officials of countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) convened in New Zealand on Wednesday to sign the final agreement, but it was really just a formality. Individual nations must still approve the trade deal. “After five years of negotiations, we are pleased to see the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement take another step forward today,” said Chip Bowling, President of the National Corn Growers Association. “This agreement is good for both corn farmers and our friends and partners in the livestock industry. We all want to see more American grains, meat, and dairy on dinner tables around the world.”
But the trade agreement which would make American farmers competitive in much of Asia with a variety of food and feed exports faces an uncertain future in Congress. President Barack Obama discussed the pact in his meeting Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan and considers it one of his five congressional priorities this year, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. McConnell didn’t have overly good news for the administration. “I have some problems with the agreement,” he told reporters following the Republican caucus lunch. “With both the Democratic candidates for president opposed to the deal and a number of presidential candidates in our party opposed to the deal, it is my advice that we not pursue that, certainly before the election. And some would argue that it’s not fair to the voters for them not to consider what you might do after the election.”
Senate Agriculture Chair Pat Roberts says a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not expected until after the November Elections. Roberts delivered that message to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Wednesday. Roberts, along with House Agriculture Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson, said the trade deal does not seem likely to be considered before the lame-duck session. Roberts did say members of Congress “are going through 5,000 pages and finding reasons they are not for it,” according to the Hagstrom Report. Roberts says approval of the deal depends on the election results, while Peterson says the trade deal would likely fail if considered in the House today. Peterson, who has opposed most trade agreements, said he is still examining the agreement.