Ag Policy Blog

Ag Groups React to SOTU on Trade, Climate

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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There were few early reactions Tuesday or Wednesday from agricultural groups to the State of the Union speech.

Nonetheless, here are a few:

The American Soybean Association jumped out Tuesday night and "welcomed the commitment" from President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address to promote his trade agenda. ASA stated soybean farmers look forward to advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as further normalizing trade relations with China.

"The commitment of this administration to trade is something that we have appreciated at every turn, and the President's final State of the Union address this evening shows that course will continue throughout the year," said Richard Wilkins, president of ASA and a farmer from Greenwood, Delaware.

Wilkins added, "We understand that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is going to be a heavy lift this year, but we are excited to continue our press to see it passed by our Congress and ratified. The promise of the TPP for soybean farmers is too great to accept anything less, and we are very encouraged to hear the president continue his focus on the TPP in the year to come."

The eleven other TPP nations already account for $5.4 billion in annual soy exports, ASA noted. Further, the trade pact will expand meat exports to the region which will drive more demand for soy meal feed in the U.S.

ASA was somewhat counted by the National Farmers Union. NFU President Roger Johnson criticized TPP, stating it would fail to deliver promised jobs, markets and economic growth for family farmers and ranchers without enforceable rules against currency manipulation. Johnson said at least four member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are known currency manipulators. The practice has greatly contributed to this nation’s massive $508 billion trade deficit, he said.

“Unfortunately, not everyone plays fair,” Johnson said in a statement. “Like many of the trade deals that proceeded it, the TPP fails to provide effective enforcement tools to prevent competitors from manipulating their currencies and thereby bypassing trade rules."

In his speech, the president called on Congress to pass TPP, saying it would open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia.

"It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. With TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement," President Obama said. "Give us the tools to enforce it."

The president also called on Congress to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. Both National Farmers Union and the American Soybean Association support lifting that embargo.

Despite criticism of TPP, Johnson instead praised the president for talking about climate change during his speech. “We are greatly appreciative of the Administration’s focus on climate change,” Johnson said. “Their efforts to help mitigate climate change will give family farmers and ranchers a better shot at ensuring global food security. Family farmers and ranchers can employ numerous practices that reduce or sequester carbon when given the correct incentives."

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1/14/2016 | 10:58 AM CST
If the TPP was is so great, why does it have so much money in it to help "retrain displaced workers" in the US?
tom vogel
1/13/2016 | 10:21 PM CST
The ASA needs to dig into the multi-thousand page TPP more deeply. This monster is not at all about free trade. It is more about climate change, unionization of workers, and currency manipulation. If they think they can market more soybeans with this thing, they are dead wrong. If you want to market more soybeans, advance the uses of the product. Forget this TPP dog; it's not going to hunt!