Although United States farm groups and ag interests are still sorting out where they stand with the new administration, several voiced immediate criticism of President Trump’s formal commitment to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday.
The TPP — a multilateral trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and 10 other countries around the Pacific Rim — “held great promise for us, and has been a key priority for several years now. We’re very disappointed to see the withdrawal today,” said Illinois farmer and American Soybean Association president Ron Moore, in a statement following Trump’s signing of the executive order. “Trade is something soybean farmers take very seriously.”
On the livestock side, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expressed concern over the direction Trump is taking on trade.
“TPP and (the North American Free Trade Agreement) have long been convenient political punching bags, but the reality is that foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry,” noted NCBA president Tracy Brunner.
“Fact is American cattle producers are already losing out on $400,000 in sales every day because we don’t have TPP, and since NAFTA was implemented, exports of American-produced beef to Mexico have grown by more than 750 percent,” continued Brunner. “We’re especially concerned that the administration is taking these actions without any meaningful alternatives in place that would compensate for the tremendous loss that cattle producers will face without TPP or NAFTA.”
Moore also stressed the importance of having access to growing markets in Asia.
“Moving forward, we expect to see a plan in place as soon as possible to engage the TPP partner nations and capture the value that we lose with the withdrawal today. With net farm income down by over 40 percent from levels just a few years ago, we need trade deals with the Asia-Pacific countries to make up for the $4.4 billion in annual net farm income being lost by farmers from not moving forward with the TPP,” he said.
American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall noted his group “viewed TPP as a positive agreement for agriculture – one that would have added $4.4 billion annually to our struggling agriculture economy” and called on the new administration to “begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region.”
With further trade-related announcements expected in the coming days, Duvall highlighted how U.S. ag exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled since NAFTA was implemented in 1993, saying any renegotiation must “assure that U.S. ag trade with Canada and Mexico remains strong.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland are in Calgary for a two-day cabinet meeting to start the week focusing on Canada-U.S. relations, with Trump vowing to renegotiate NAFTA. Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly traveling to Calgary to meet with Trudeau and his cabinet.
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