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Leaving TPP Hurts Wisconsin Farmers

March 15, 2017
In The News

America’s farmers are the world’s most productive.  The food from our nation’s farm fields help feed a hungry and growing world.  That is why President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a win for farmers, workers, and businesses… in China. While it is true that more needs to be done to ensure that global trade is conducted on a more balanced, level playing field, allowing China to write the rules is not the answer.

China was not a part to the TPP but with U.S. leadership, we were able to negotiate, with the 11 other nations, greater market access to the products we grow, manufacture, and invent. TPP required the other nations to raise their standards on worker rights, environmental protections, and human rights. By doing so our farmers, worker, and businesses would have a more level playing field on which to compete.

Wisconsin farmers know better than anyone that trade is unavoidable – a much-needed lifeline in times of economic uncertainty and low commodity prices. According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture in 2016, Wisconsin farmers exported more than $3.4 billion dollars to over 150 countries. As the nation’s twelfth largest state in agriculture exports, with dairy comprising nearly a billion, the money received from trade exports helps support the agriculture economy here at home while growing our presence in emerging markets.

Recently there has been a lot of misinformation surrounding trade agreements like the TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Rather than facts, political rhetoric appears to be driving policy. Trade negotiations are not a win or lose exercise; instead, they are an agreement between like-minded nations.  By working together, trade can increase prosperity both here at home and abroad.

For an example of the importance of trade agreements look no further than our relationship with Mexico and Canada. Mexico is our country’s largest dairy importer – not in spite of NAFTA but as a result of it. From 2013 to 2015, 28% of U.S. agricultural exports was destined for either Canada or Mexico, an 11 point increase since 1990 – prior to NAFTA’s enactment.

The simple fact is that we can’t afford to walk away from the global stage and cede leadership in the fastest growing area of the global economy to China. With 95% of the world’s population living outside our borders, United States farmers, workers, and businesses need trade to compete in the growing 21st-century global economy. If we do, I fear we may be on the menu – and not in the way we’d hope.