The Roundup -

Farm Bureau Board Votes To Support International Trade Agreement


The American Farm Bureau Board of Directors has voted to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, stating that it would be economically beneficial for agriculture. Montana Farm Bureau President Bob Hanson, who sits on the AFBF Board, noted that Montana agriculture would benefit, as well. “There are many positive aspects for beef producers,” said Hanson. “We will increase the amount of beef we export, which will help beef prices rebound. With this agreement, a 39 percent tariff of beef drops to zero. Japan is our largest consumer followed by Vietnam. With the TPP, we expect agricultural imports of beef to greatly increase in five years.”

According to the USDA, Japan is the United States’ top export market for beef and beef products. The TPP agreement will provide unprecedented access to Japan’s beef market. Japan will eliminate duties on 74 percent of its beef and beef product imports within 16 years, with substantial cuts to the remaining tariffs.

Hanson noted the agreement will be positive economically for Montana wheat producers. “Without the TPP agreement, U.S. wheat and wheat product exports to the TPP region face a competitive disadvantage,” Hanson said. “Australian, Chilean, and Vietnamese wheat product exports to Japan already receive preferential market access treatment due to the existing trade agreements with Japan and other countries. The TPP will allow U.S. wheat to remain competitive.”

The White Sulphur Springs rancher noted the 2014 value of Montana agricultural exports was $1.6 billion. “The TPP will allow tariffs to be eliminated thus increasing the value of our products.  Keep in mind that although Japan and Vietnam will be the top importers, we will have tariff-free access to other markets including Malaysia, New Zealand and Brunei.”

“This trade agreement originated several years ago with former Montana Senator Max Baucus,” Hanson said. “Senator Baucus was very pro-trade, so it will be rewarding to see this agreement come to fruition. We need the president and Congress to vote in its favor. That should take place in early 2016.”

AFBF President Bob Stallman said, “We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to move this agreement forward. American farmers need improved access to markets around the Pacific Rim in order to generate growing demand for our products in the future. Our members recognize that the rest of the world is not sitting still. Other countries are trying to set trading rules in their own best interests. This agreement goes a long way in establishing a much more level playing field for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.”


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