TPA Needed To Approve Trade Agreements That Are Good for Indiana Farmers

By Dave Lowe and Herb Ringel

 
The United States is on the verge of closing one of the most important trade deals ever undertaken. Many view the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a great opportunity for global trade expansion, with 12 countries in this first round of talks and others lining up to be included in subsequent rounds. That could mean eventual new avenues for Indiana farmers to sell more products across the globe.
 
But resolving the remaining difficult issues and pushing TPP across the finish line require passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. 
 
Dues paying members of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Growers Association, and farmers all across the state, urge members of the Indiana congressional delegation to support TPA. 
 
Once negotiators finalize a deal under TPA, Congress would do its duty to review the agreement and take an up or down vote – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law approved in 2002 and expiring in 2007. 
 
The TPA legislation being considered in Congress allows U.S. negotiators to get the best deal possible for the United States. It also includes language that addresses important issues such as labor and environment standards, human rights issues and intellectual property protections. 
 
TPA will empower U.S. trade officials to pursue and conclude a number of free trade agreements (FTAs), but it’s the TPP that now is paramount for the U.S. business and agricultural sectors. In fact, the countries involved in the TPP negotiation combined account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. Opening those markets to U.S. goods would be an incredible opportunity for our economy nationally all the way down to our local rural economies. 
 
For U.S. agriculture, trade is vital – as it is for every sector of the economy. More than 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States. The $150.5 billion in agricultural products exported in 2014 supported more than 1 million American jobs, and for every $1 in farm exports, an additional $1.22 in business activity was stimulated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So 2014’s agricultural exports generated another $183.6 billion in economic activity in the United States, bringing a total benefit of $334 billion. 
 
In 2013, Indiana’s top five agricultural exports were $1.7 billion of soybeans, $442 million of soybean meal, $429 million in feeds and fodder, $410 million of corn and $307 million of pork. And every dollar of agricultural export creates an additional $1.27 in business activity for our economy.
The bottom line is that passing free trade agreements, such as TPP, eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and boost our exports, help create Indiana jobs and benefit the local economies. The first step to getting those agreements finalized is approving TPA. Doing so would send a strong signal to our trading partners around the globe that the United States is committed to free and fair trade. 
 
Dave Lowe is a farmer from Dunkirk, Ind. and president of the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Herb Ringel is a farmer from Wabash, Ind. and president of the Indiana Corn Growers Association. To learn more about ISA, visit www.indianasoybean.com. To learn more about ICGA, go to www.incorn.org.
 
This communication was NOT funded with Indiana corn or soybean checkoff dollars.