US feed orgs, growers offer support for TPP, but plan alternatives

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International trade remains focus for US feed and grower organizations, regardless of Trans-Pacific Partnership approval.

Organizations including the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), American Soybean Association (ASA), National Association of Wheat Growers, US Wheat Associates, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Corn Growers Association have called for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the on-going lame duck legislative session since the election last week.

Some organizations also said they are starting to plan for what happens if it is not approved.

“AFIA plans to continue to educate Congress and the administration on the value of TTP for both our industry and the US economy,” Joel Newman, AFIA president and CEO told us. “This hopefully will gain acceptance as the new administration progresses with their priorities.”

The importance of trade remains even if the specific trade deal is not passed, said Patrick Delaney, communication director with the ASA.

“We want to make sure that the gains that we can realize through the TPP are still achieved,” he told FeedNavigator. “We can’t afford to not trade, to not work toward expanding markets. That’s what so much of American agriculture is built on, [and] we can’t reverse course on that effort.”

There have been increasing questions about whether it is still possible to pass approval of the trade legislation through Congress. 

 TPP recap

The trade agreement includes provisions reducing several tariffs on agricultural products either immediately or on specified timelines, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative (OUSTR). It also addresses other aspects of international trade like prohibiting requirements with specific distributors.

Additionally, it sought to eliminate all agricultural export subsidies; develop export credits, credit guarantees and insurance programs; and sought to limit export restrictions on food stuffs as a way to protect domestic markets, the office reported. The agreement also included discussion on transparency regarding trade of biotech products.

The agreement also touched on the use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures similar to what is already in place in the US and based in science, the office said.

Trade expansion

Groups calling for the approval of the trade agreement among the US and Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand have highlighted its importance for the feed and agricultural sectors.

AFIA said that the TPP brings increased economic opportunities by reducing barriers on the international level. “The future growth of the feed industry – both direct feed and ingredient exports and the increased overseas sale of US livestock, poultry and dairy products – greatly depends on international trade,” said Gina Tumbarello, director of international policy and trade with AFIA.

“This deal can make a difference for the US feed industry and agriculture as a whole, and for US businesses across the board,” she said. “AFIA cannot urge Congress and the Obama administration enough; finalize TPP to ensure that the US is leading the global trade agenda, can compete internationally and does not continue to lose market share to competition.”

Focus on international trade

The ASA has started to plan beyond the lame duck session and consider options if the agreement is not passed, said Delaney. “The hope is that as the new administration comes in we can speak with the Trump administration on how important trade is for soybean farmers,” he added.

“We’ll be looking to have that conversation,” he said. “Obviously we’d like to see the whole thing put in place, but if that is not practical – he made it an issue on the [campaign].”

The trade agreement remains of interest, not just because of the potential for expansion, but because of the markets in the Pacific Rim area that are involved, he said. The region includes the burgeoning markets in Southeast Asia that are starting to look for more protein and increased meat consumption.

Soybean farmers play a role in the production of animal protein as it is included a large amount of animal feed, he said.

“We’re never going to stop pushing for trade agreements, and market access and the global awareness that benefits soybean farmers in the US,” said Delaney. “We’re going to make sure that the Trump administration really understands that American farmers and soybean farmers need broad, big thinking trade agreements – whether it’s called TPP or something else, we want to make sure that we’re opening new markets not closing markets.” 

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