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Ag groups disappointed in Trump’s decision to leave TPP

Commodity groups in Agweek Country are disappointed in President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they hope to see movement on new trade agreements soon.President Barack Obama's administr...

 

Commodity groups in Agweek Country are disappointed in President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they hope to see movement on new trade agreements soon.
President Barack Obama’s administration negotiated the 12-country TPP, but Congress never approved it. Also involved in the agreement were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Trump sees the trade agreement as a raw deal for U.S. manufacturing, but agricultural groups were quick to point out the effects pulling out of the deal could have on the country’s farmers and ranchers.
“If I could say something to the president, it would be, ‘Mr. President, thank you for your efforts to protect U.S. workers, but please remember that soybean producers are workers too,’” says Jerry Schmitz, president of the South Dakota Soybean Association.
Soybeans are the one of the nation’s biggest agricultural exports, with more than half the nation’s production sent out of country. Many of the biggest markets for soybeans were involved in the TPP, and the agreement promised to lower barriers and tariffs to get many U.S. products into those countries.
“Any time that there’s a trade barrier of any type anywhere in the world that has to do with either livestock or soybeans it makes it harder for those people to purchase my product at an affordable rate,” Schmitz says.
Nancy Johnson, executive director of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, and Lawrence Sukalski, director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the American Soybean Association, said sales of soybeans into countries with which the U.S. does not have trade agreements will continue; however, those sales would be made easier and more sales could be made if trade agreements were in place.
“We’re just hoping that we’ll see a plan in place soon to work with those partner nations and start to work out those individual trade packages,” Johnson says.
Sukalski says the American Soybean Association is urging Trump to sit down and talk about the matter as soon as possible. The relationships the U.S. has with Asian countries is very important to the long-term health of the soybean market, he says.
“It’s certainly not the end of the world,” he says. “But again, all this hard work for such a long time is all the sudden put on hold.”
Dale Ihry, executive director of North Dakota Corn Growers, says Trump’s move to leave the agreement was no surprise, given it was a big talking point during his campaign. However, he says TPP seemed like a good trade agreement for corn producers.
“We’re looking forward to helping educate the administration on how to enhance trade agreements,” he says.
Caren Assman, executive director of South Dakota Wheat Inc., says TPP is an important agreement because wheat is a global commodity.
“If not that agreement, we’re in hopes that they will negotiate some type of global agreement,” she says.
Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, says TPP would have been a big boost to cattle producers at a time when the cattle market needs a boost. Japan already is a major importer of U.S. beef, and that’s with a 38.5 percent tariff, she says. TPP would have lowered that rate to 9 percent, on par with the tariff on Australian beef, which is the U.S.’s biggest competitor on the global market.
Japanese consumers also are interested in cuts of meat that don’t sell well in the United States, which means enhancing trade with Japan gives producers a way to utilize the whole animal.
“We’re able to add more value to the carcass,” she says.
Ellingson says another concern is that the U.S. now will be left out of other negotiations and conversations with Asian countries.
“It’s kind of a challenging situation to be in because we want to be able to move products,” she says.
Schmitz says the impact of the loss of TPP on the livestock industry also can hurt farmers who grow feed for cattle and pork, so soybean growers want to see beef imports happen, too.
“We’re kind of getting a double whammy as a crop,” he says.
National groups, including the American Soybean Association, American Feed Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council also expressed their disappointment at the U.S. leaving the partnership.

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