NPR: Why Many Midwestern Farmers Are Pro-TPP

05/10/2016

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May 9, 2016 | By Kristofor Husted

A coalition of more than 200 agriculture groups recently drafted an open letter urging congressional leaders to approve the TPP, saying the trade deal will help U.S. farmers stay competitive in an increasingly crowded world market. Free trade agreements remove tariffs on products we import, but also on food grown here that we export to other markets. That opens the door to get more beef, soybeans and rice into other countries at more competitive prices. John says the TPP could ultimately put money in farmers’ pockets by allowing them better access to consumers in Asian countries with a taste for American beef.

Many beef producers, like John, want to see the TPP ratified because it is designed to cut tariffs in countries like Japan, which has historically been highly protective of its domestic markets. “So it’s not necessarily that we need to get into those markets. We just need to have fair access so that we can compete with the other global suppliers of beef,” John says.

The National Farmers Union actively opposes the deal. The organization of mostly smaller farmers contends that the agreement would hurt the broader economy, which could spell trouble for farmers. Johnson says he’s worried that free trade deals make it more likely that big companies will move jobs overseas. That can hurt the U.S. market for food and, in turn, hurt farmers that depend on off-farm income. He’s worried we import more than we export and feed the ballooning trade deficit.

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