For once in the 2016 election cycle, Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders andHilary Clinton agree on something – they don’t support the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal (TTP). Though the TPP has been a controversial topic of conversation on both sides of the aisle, President Obama has been lobbying hard to get Congress to pass the deal before he leaves office.
“When we’ve gotten it done, the Trans-PacificPartnership will do even more to lower the costs of exporting, eliminating taxes and custom duties and raising intellectual property standards that protect data and ideas and jobs,” President Obama told business leaders at the Select USA Summit.
The TPP is a free trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The pact between these countries is meant to deepen our economic ties with them, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.
The deal would eliminate over 18,000 taxes in the form of tariffs that various countries put on all Made-in-America products. It also provides Americans with unprecedented access to vital new markets in the Asia-Pacific region. That’s why, despite being a divisive topic among politicians, many farmers stand behind President Obama and fully support the deal. Recently, a coalition of more than 200 agriculture groups drafted an open letter urging congressional leaders to approve the TPP.
“The TPP is critical to the livelihood of the U.S. food and agriculture sector because it will create conditions that encourage economic growth and increased employment in rural areas and throughout the supply chain, the letter said. “Exports are fundamental to the success of the agricultural industry because 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States and 20% of U.S. farm income is from exports.”
When it comes to the TPP, without a doubt, farmers come out on top. The American Farm Bureau Federation says that agreeing to the TPP will boost annual net farm income in the U.S. by $4.4 billion. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the 11 countries included in the deal already take in more than 40% of American agricultural exports. In monetary terms, that’s worth a whopping $63 billion and the USDA says the TPP could add another $3 billion on top of that.
Livestock farmers and ranchers stand to hugely benefit from this deal going through. Countries like Malaysia and Vietnam have a growing economy fueling middle-class appetites for meat and their dense populations coupled with cuts to import taxes on meat means producers could sell them a lot more beef and chicken.
However, the biggest winners are not the ranchers – they are the soybean farmers. Not only does the TPP provide soybean farmers with more export opportunities, but the increased demand for meat will substantially increase domestic demand for soybean products in the form of livestock feed. Currently, the U.S. makes more money exporting soybeans than any other crop by far. Each year,the U.S. sends $5.5 billion worth of soybeans and soybean products such as oil or meal to the TPP countries. The American Soybean Association believes that if the TPP is passed and the consumers no longer have to pay higher prices to cover the cost of tariffs, the demand for soybeans will increase abroad.
However, not all farmers are completely convinced. The National Farmers Union, an organization consisting primarily of smaller farmers, actively opposes the TPP deal, saying that it would hurt the broader economy, which could be trouble for farmers. Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, told NPR that he worried the free trade deals make the prospect of moving jobs overseas even more likely for big companies. He added that he worried the U.S. would import more than they export, further adding to the ballooning trade deficit.
Recently, it seems that the TPP may have gained some approval with the Democratic Party as Democratic National Convention (DNC) platform committee recently rejected a proposal to oppose the TPP. However, all of this back and forth over whether the TPP is good or bad for American workers does not matter as long as Congress keeps the deal in limbo. So far, both the House and the Senate have refused to set a date, with many saying that the deal will not be considered until the lame-duck session after the November election.
“At the end of the day, TPP is about opportunity,” said USDASecretary Tom Vilsack. “The agreement will advance U.S. economic interests in a critical region that accounts for nearly 40% of global GDP.w