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Farm States Plead for TPA

May 04, 2015

“The U.S. pork industry, U.S. agriculture, indeed the entire U.S. economy needs TPA, and we need it soon.” That’s the message from one pork producer in Iowa. But it’s a message that is being amplified all across America’s agricultural states.

It isn’t just about a sector that recognizes the benefits of increased trade. It’s about people whose livelihoods depend on it.

More than one million American jobs are tied to agriculture exports. “American family farmers depend on trade,” said the president of the National Corn Growers Association.

That’s why leaders in heavy agriculture states are calling on Congress to pass trade promotion authority (TPA) as the first step to expanding American exports.

“Iowa businesses and agricultural producers recognize the importance of pro-growth trade policies to their future success,” write Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and other Iowa leaders in a letter to the entire Iowa congressional delegation. They note that “TPA will strengthen the hands of U.S. trade negotiators and help achieve solid results for U.S. companies, farmers, and workers in ongoing trade negotiations.”

Nebraska Governor Ricketts is also calling on Congress to pass TPA. Writing along with his Agriculture Director, he says, “International trade is a critical piece of Nebraska’s economy, impacting two of our largest sectors, agriculture and manufacturing.”

Many of his fellow governors feel the same way. A group of governors—including Kansas’s Sam Brownback, Indiana’s Mike Pence, Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, and Alabama’s Robert Bentley—signed a letter urging Congress to promote more trade. They note that “the primary purpose of the agreements should be to increase market access, including improved access for U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods abroad.”

And standing with these elected officials are the men and women who grow and raise these products themselves. In Texas, a coalition of agricultural groups is calling on the state’s congressional delegation to support TPA. Organizations representing a wide range of agricultural products signed a letter that says, in part, “Our state food and agricultural sector, as with agriculture nationwide, is heavily dependent on continued strong growth in exports. Productivity in agriculture far outpaces the domestic market’s ability to consume it. We need to continue to push for greater access to foreign markets and this is only possible through trade agreements and Trade Promotion Authority.”

In a similar letter, Ohio agriculture groups warn that “rejecting TPA would not be free of serious consequences. Nations around the world are negotiating bilateral trade deals. If competitors gain free access to our biggest markets while we continue to face substantial import barriers, our markets will inevitably shrink. Standing still on trade is really falling behind.”

Similarly, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers wrote to their congressional delegation: “TPP is the most important regional trade negotiation ever undertaken. Both the United States and our partners in the TPP will be better off with a robust, high standard TPP than without it. But in order for TPP to become a reality, Congress needs to pass TPA. We strongly urge you to support Oklahoma’s agricultural sector and vote for TPA.”

For Americans who rely on agriculture, TPA isn’t about politics. The need for greater exports spans the partisan divide. That’s why a bipartisan group of former agriculture secretaries was able to come together to urge support. “For us,” they wrote, “the choice is clear: we encourage Congress to enact Trade Promotion Authority and support trade agreements that help U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers thrive.”