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Monday, February 20th, 2017

Quitting TPP may cost U.S. farmers billions

By Sydney Albert
CELINA - Industry leaders fear America's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership will prevent expansion into new overseas markets and cost farmers billions of dollars.
Mercer County Ohio Farm Bureau Director Jill Smith said while no one in her organization is shocked at President Donald Trump's recent decision to pull the U.S. out of the deal, they aren't thrilled with it either. She called the TPP agreement a positive deal for agriculture.
"Export is a large part of the American agricultural industry," Smith said.
About 25 percent of the industry's goods are exported, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said.
The TPP was intended to help secure certain overseas markets such as Japan, where demand for soybean products is high, Smith noted.
The loss of the TPP will affect more than just farmers, she said. Businesses that provide agricultural equipment will feel the effects, too. W.G. Dairy Supply President Tony Stoller said he wasn't sure his company had felt any impact yet, but he knows farmers and commodity prices rely heavily on exports.
"The more that Trump or anybody can do to promote trade is good for agriculture," Stoller said. "The farms, they're directly affected by the commodity prices, and we're indirectly affected, because obviously the farmers need that cash flow and that capital to invest in equipment and maintain their equipment."
Although the loss of the partnership isn't necessarily going to deplete markets, people aren't going to be able to expand within the agriculture industry as they would have been able to with the TPP, Smith said.
Trump in January signed an executive order that pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move that the American Farm Bureau Association said would cost the agricultural industry $4.4 billion.
The 12-country free-trade agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama's administration in 2015 joined countries such as Japan, Mexico and Singapore to boost import and export trade, but critics, including Trump and Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have called it a bad deal for American workers.
In a news release after Trump's executive order, Sanders wrote that he was glad the TPP was dead, and that the TPP and other trade deals like it, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, had started a "race to the bottom," which lowered wages for American workers.
"The agriculture industry didn't feel like that was a dangerous issue for our workforce," said Smith.
The trade-deal opponents were worried for workers in the manufacturing industry, not those in agriculture, but the agricultural industry contributes much to manufacturing jobs, Smith said.
"Our raw goods go toward making manufactured goods," Smith said. "Corn is used to make plastic, soybeans can be used to make ink, oil and other petroleum products."
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, supports free trade and has voted for every trade deal considered during his time in Congress, according to his spokesman Darin Miller. However, Jordan was ultimately undecided on TPP.
"What I know is that President Trump has pledged to put American jobs first as he negotiates trade deals with other countries," Jordan wrote in an email. "The 4th District is one that grows things and makes things, and I will fight to ensure that the employees, business owners, farmers and manufacturers that I represent benefit from any attempts to rewrite old or negotiate new trade agreements."
"Trump's not against trade," Smith said. "Obviously it's in the agenda of this administration to put something else in place, but we're all in a wait-and-see phase right now. It's a priority for us as an organization to work with them and help them hopefully roll something else out."
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