The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is not without its critics but has general acceptance among the agricultural community.
“The governments of many of our competitors are actively engaged in negotiating trade agreements with growing consumer markets around the world,” Bob McCan, NCBA President and Texas cattle producer, noted earlier this year. “Unless the United States takes a similar aggressive approach to secure free trade agreements, we will lose market share; not due to the quality of our products, but because our products will be more expensive due to import tariffs.”
Still, TPA has received enough pushback in Congress that some are speculating it won’t be passed. The main criticism is that it gives the executive branch too much power, and there are also concerns over lack of transparency in the process.
The USDA recently listed what it says are five compelling reasons that trade is critical for the U.S. agriculture industry, and urges Congress to pass TPA legislation to avoid putting robust ag exports in jeopardy.
- Exports account for about 20% of U.S. farm and ranch income.
- Where the U.S. has established free trade agreements, exports to those countries have increased by 155%, increasing from $25 billion to $60 billion between 2003 and 2014.
- U.S. ag exports were up 4% last year, to a total of $150 billion.
- Ag exports supported around 1 million full-time U.S. jobs (on and off the farm) in 2013.
- Every $1 of ag export sales generates an additional $1.22 in business activity.
U.S. agricultural exports of note include:
- Rice, wheat and soybean (~50%)
- Almond, walnut and pistachio (~60%)
- Grape (~40%)
- Cherry and apple (~20%)
- Poultry and pork (~20%)
- Beef (~10%)
USDA adds that of the approximately 260 preferential trade agreements worldwide, the U.S. is only a part of 14.