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US Farming Groups Divided on Trans-Pacific Partnership

28 April 2016

US - Over 100 food and farming organisations sent a letter this week to urge lawmakers to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Joint with faith and other rural organisations, the letter had a total of 161 signatories. The groups say they are worried about competition from imports with US farm products.

The letter shows a difference of opinion among US farm organisations on the subject, as the National Milk Producers Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), as well as several other groups, have voiced support for the trade pact.

In the letter to lawmakers, the groups opposing TPP wrote: "The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition.

"TPP imports will compete against US farmers who are facing declining farm prices that are projected to stay low for years.”

They also noted that past trade agreements have not always delivered on export promises.

“Trade deals do not just add new export markets – the flow of trade goes both ways – and the US has committed to allowing significantly greater market access to imports under the TPP,” the groups said, adding that a lack of enforceable provisions against currency manipulation was another cause for concern in the agreement.

The groups also said that the TPP poses particular risks for cattle producers, as imports would rise in a time of low domestic prices. 

“The TPP rolls out the red carpet for foreign cattle imports to undercut American family ranchers,” said Mabel Dobbs, a rancher from Weiser, Idaho, on behalf of the Western Organisation of Resource Councils.

“We will face the added challenge of competing with cheap, unregulated and un-inspected imported beef. Like failed trade deals of the past, the beneficiaries of this agreement are the multi-national meatpackers at the expense of family farmers and ranchers.”

However, in its statement announcing support for the TPP, the NCBA said cattle producers would benefit from the TPP due to reduced tariffs in countries such as Japan.

The letter was introduced at a press teleconference with House Agriculture Committee Member Rep. Rick Nolan, NFU President Roger Johnson, Auburn University agricultural economist Professor C. Robert Taylor and independent rancher and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union member Steve Nein.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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