By U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Today, farmers, ranchers, and rural communities are more prosperous thanks to strong trade agreements. Foreign markets contribute to more than half of total sales for many American agricultural products.
The last six years have been the strongest in history for agricultural exports, and agricultural exports now support more than 1 million good-paying American jobs. Without the expanded trade that came with past trade agreements, the agricultural economy and the American economy as a whole would not be as strong as it is today.
But new trade agreements are only possible if our negotiators can speak with one voice to negotiate free and fair trade deals. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) — now being considered in Congress — allows them to do just that.
Here's what’s at stake. The world is becoming even more competitive — opportunities and power are taken out of the hands of hardworking American farmers and put into the hands of their competitors. That is why the President is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will further open Asia-Pacific markets for American agricultural products.
It’s time for Congress to stand up for American businesses, communities, and families, rural and urban alike, and pass TPA legislation.
Here are five reasons why trade is important for the U.S. agricultural industry:
1. America's farmers and ranchers are among the most productive in the world, but they depend on exports, which generate approximately 20 percent of their farm income.
2. U.S. agricultural exports to countries where the United States has free trade agreements (FTAs) increased more than 155 percent, from nearly $25 billion to more than $60 billion between 2003 and 2014.
3. U.S. agricultural exports were more than $150 billion in 2014, up more than 4 percent from 2013.
4. Overseas sales of agricultural products supported more than 1 million full-time American jobs, both on and off the farm in 2013.
5. Every dollar of agricultural exports stimulated another $1.22 in business activity in 2013.
You can get the full factsheet breaking down the important role trade plays in supporting America's farmers and ranchers here.
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