Trade office releases TPP agreement text |

Trade office releases TPP agreement text

US cattle groups have mixed opinions on the potential impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the U.S. cattle industry. While NCBA supports the agreement, citing a reduction of tariffs, R-CALF USA says lower priced beef from countries including Australia will drive down the price of domestic beef. iStock photo
Martin Benik |

Only hours after the government released the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the National Farmers Union issued a statement of opposition while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Trade Benefits America Coalition welcomed the release.

NFU President Roger Johnson said any benefits the agreement might bring would be outweighed by the negatives.

“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,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, it appears to be as bad for America’s family farmers and ranchers as we had feared.

“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.

“First and foremost, TPP will position Americans to compete and win in tomorrow’s global economy. This is the first trade agreement to put a real focus on American small businesses who will gain powerful tools to help them export.” Michael Froman, trade representative

Johnson said the TPP “looks to be particularly bad for the nation’s ranchers.”

“The beef export opportunities are very modest,” he said. “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.

Johnson said that since TPP has been granted fast-track authority, Congress has no alternative but to vote it down.

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

Vilsack, however, said release of the TPP text shows that the agreement would provide new market access for American farmers and ranchers by lowering tariffs and eliminating other barriers, boosting exports and supporting jobs in rural economies.

“At the end of the day, TPP is about opportunity,” Vilsack said. “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.”

Vilsack noted there was “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 boarders, we cannot afford to let this opportunity slip away.”

David Thomas, president of the Trade Benefits America Coalition, also welcomed the release of the text.

“A well-crafted TPP has significant potential to expand U.S. trade opportunities with some of the world’s fastest growing markets — to the benefit of American businesses, farmers, and workers,” Thomas said. “We look forward to examining the agreement closely and continuing to work with the Administration and Congress as the TPP process moves forward.”

The Trade Benefits America Coalition includes a wide range of associations and companies dedicated to the pursuit of U.S. international trade agreements that benefit American businesses, farmers, workers, and consumers

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued this statement following the Administration’s release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement:

“The TPP will continue to drive the U.S. cattle and sheep industry’s untenable trade deficits to new heights. The cattle industry is already burdened by an accumulated deficit of $46.1 billion with the 20 countries that we already have free trade agreements with.

“Our sheep industry has been absolutely decimated by huge volumes of cheaper Australian imports and because the TPP adds New Zealand, which also is a major lamb exporter, the TPP is sure to further decimate our commercial sheep industry.

“The TPP will expand the multinational meatpackers’ practice of cherry-picking low-cost cattle and sheep production from around the world, allowing them to strategically ship those animals and meat products into the United States duty free to create even more market volatility and to drive domestic prices even lower.

The TPP is yet another license that gives multinational meatpackers the ability to control both the live cattle and live sheep production chains.

“We just submitted a brief to the U.S. International Trade Commission that shows that Canada is the largest contributor to our burgeoning trade deficit because we imported $31 billion-plus in cattle and beef from Canada more than we exported to that country. Australia is the second-largest contributor at over $23 billion.

– The Hagstrom Report, R-CALF USA