By Adam Capps, The Farmer's Pride
President Trump is already raising eyebrows and causing a great deal of apprehension in the agriculture community after signing an executive order that will withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
TPP was a 12-nation trade pact that was created to help give the U.S. more trade opportunities among Pacific Rim countries like Japan, Vietnam, Singapore. and Malaysia.
Just last week, Tracy Brunner, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said, "TPP and NAFTA have long been convenient political punching bags, but the reality is that foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. Beef Industry."
Livestock farmers aren't the only ones who will be affected if new plans aren't put into place soon. Over the past two years, corn and soybean prices in the U.S. have dropped significantly as farmers are making less and less even though they are producing more yield from their fields.
Nearly half of the soybeans and corn produced in Kentucky are exported overseas. While the TPP had issues that were continuously brought into the limelight during this past election cycle, TPP did exist to expand and make trading easier between the multiple nations involved in the pact.
"We do think there were important things in the agreement like the biotech language and approval that would help to even the playing field," said Laura Knoth, executive director of the Kentucky Corn Growers Association. "We are hopeful for a better deal and President Trump campaigned strongly on trade issues, but he also visited farm country and tried to understand how important agriculture trade is to American farmers and to American trading relationships. I don't think that you jump to concerns, but you do want to make sure that deals aren't just new but that they are improved, so we will take what was good from some of the things hammered out in TPP and improve from there."
Agriculture groups estimate that the TPP partnership could have added up to $4.4 billion for the U.S. agriculture sector. By cancelling the deal, the U.S. could lose some of their capability to mold the direction of trade. The partnership had been negotiated by President Obama but it was not voted on or ratified by Congress before the end of Obama's time in the White House.
President Trump has voiced support for negotiating one-on-one trade agreements rather than participate in multilateral trade deals like the TPP. Other elected officials have echoed similar sentiments of starting fresh with new ideas, including Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner, Ryan Quarles.
"While I fully understand the cancellation of the TPP may cause concern for some, I'm excited to see a renewed spirit in the international trade arena," said Quarles. "The last two years have been a clash of ideals and stagnant progress on international trade. I look forward to working with the new administration to ensure that any trade deals benefit Kentucky farmers. The commonwealth has a lot ot gain from access to new markets. As future trade deals are negotiated I stand ready to advise the Trump administration, just as I did this past fall."
Critics of the withdrawal are highly skeptical that President Trump will be able to negotiate better deals by dealing one on one with countries wanting to trade with the U.S. but it remains to be seen.