Reactions to federal report are mixed |

Reactions to federal report are mixed

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the U.S. International Trade Commission report released May 18, indicates that the TPP will level the playing field for U.S. beef exports and support growth in the domestic economy.

“Cattlemen and women worked closely with the administration through the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure TPP met the highest standards and lowered taxes and trade barriers in all member countries,” said NCBA President Tracy Brunner in a news release.

The Trans -Pacific Partnership, is a proposed trade agreement between U.S., Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The U.S. Congress has not approved the deal.

Longtime supporters of the proposal, the NCBA said, the report shows that TPP would lower taxes on U.S. beef into critical markets like Japan and level the playing field with U.S., competitors, providing a boon to the entire U.S. economy.

According to the report, the TPP agreement would increase annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product by $42.7 billion and expand U.S. employment by close to 128,000 full-time equivalents by 2032 when the agreement is fully implemented. Moreover, the report estimates that ten years after full implementation those benefits would continue to grow, expanding U.S. GDP by $67 billion and employment by 174,000 FTE’s. For beef specifically, the Commission estimates that overall beef exports would be about $876 million higher once TPP is fully implemented and that it would have a moderate impact on U.S. beef imports, said NCBA in a news release.

The TPP would immediately reduce the tax on U.S. beef and give Japanese consumers a choice in the retail market unbiased by price, the group said, urging swift passage of the proposal.

But the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund-United Stockgrowers of America sees the recent report in a different light, saying the expected increase in exports are relatively small when looking at the whole picture.

“The report estimates that net exports of beef by year 15 of the pact will be only $457.1 million more than if the TPP was not implemented, with most of the increase attributable to Japan. Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard put this amount into perspective by explaining that the 2015 retail value of beef produced by a choice steer was $3,144.50, and it would take only 145,365 animals to produce the beef needed to achieve this estimated increase,” said the news release.

“This means that even under the USITC’s overly optimistic estimate, the best our industry can hope for is that in 15 years we will market barely over one day’s kill in additional cattle given that the U.S. is presently slaughtering approximately 120,000 cattle per day in U.S. slaughtering plants,” said Bullard.

The report assumes that the increased income from exports will trickle down to the cattle producer but without labeling capabilities and other market competition regulations, that won’t happen, said Bullard.

“The sanitary and phytosanitary measures contained in the pact ensure the U.S. cattle industry cannot make marketing claims that U.S. beef is safer and more wholesome without being subjected to costly and protracted World Trade Organization (WTO) complaints. This will have a chilling effect on the U.S. cattle industry’s ability to compete with imports in the domestic market.

“To top it off, because the pact allows USA labels on beef from animals sourced anywhere in the world, multinational meatpackers can put an end to our competitive U.S. cattle cycle simply by sourcing cattle from other countries whenever they believe domestic cattle prices are too high or domestic cattle supplies too tight.”

The President signed the deal Feb. 3, and in a news conference days later, House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier this year that he didn’t believe the House had enough votes to approve the measure, and that the president had “a lot more work to do,” on the proposal because there were “legitimate concerns” about it.

All three of the remaining presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have voiced opposition to the trade agreement.

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