Editorial: Trump pull out of TPP will hurt area agriculture

Published 9:02 am Friday, January 27, 2017

U.S. pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership will cost agriculture $4.4 billion in lost business each year.

While President Donald Trump’s recoiling from U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership may sound good as populist support of U.S. factory workers, it is ill-advised and will amount to a resounding retraction of business for U.S. farmers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates pulling out of the TPP will cost farmers $4.4 billion per year.

Email newsletter signup

The National Cattlemen’s Association said pulling out of trade agreements may be a “political punching bag” for politicians, but said the lack of a TPP costs cattle producers $400,000 a day. Soybean producers noted more than half of U.S. soybeans are exported and Asia and Latin American represented huge growing markets. Some 25 percent of all U.S. agricultural products are exported.

With net farm income down about 40 percent in the last few years, it seems factory workers are not the only ones experiencing tough times.

The Mankato area agriculture industry, the newly defined Greenseam region of agriculture and agribusiness, is likely to suffer from Trump’s protectionism. With Greenseam region annual sales of $15.3 billion, the stakes are high.

Farm groups expressed widespread disappointment at Trump’s decision. “The TPP held great promise for us, and has been a key priority for several years now. We’re very disappointed to see the withdrawal today,” said Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association in a statement.

The participants in the TPP represented 40 percent of the world’s economy. Rejecting that kind of opportunity for U.S. business seems to be a bad tradeoff for U.S. manufacturing jobs that may or may not be saved. Many in Trump’s own party, including Sen. John McCain, say pulling back from TPP will be detrimental to the U.S. economy.

“It will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers. And it will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it,” McCain said in a statement.

And Trump’s call for renegotiating NAFTA would also hurt agriculture. Exports of U.S. beef to Mexico have grown 750 percent since NAFTA, according to the Cattlemen’s Association.

While we can appreciate Trump’s call to save middle-class factory worker jobs, many experts say the loss of manufacturing jobs is mostly due to automation, something that won’t be easily slowed by cutting off the U.S. from international trade.

Other experts say everything we didn’t like about NAFTA, specifically environmental and labor rules, were addressed in the TPP. And now, as McCain and others have said, China is going to be the leader of the Pacific trade region and have the most influence and likely the most business from a huge market.

Trump fulfilled his promise of acting quickly on trade, but it appears he did not consider the huge negative consequences. While Trump appears resistant to change even in some of his flawed policy initiatives, we urge Congress to act on the part of agriculture to open up world markets to the most efficient producers in the world.

— Mankato Free Press, Jan. 26

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

email author More by Editorial