USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack argued in a recent article that “failing to grasp this opportunity would be a mistake: worse than just losing out on potential gains, our produces would fall behind other countries that are negotiating their own preferential arrangements in TPP countries.” The Secretary argued that the TPP will lead to greater demand for U.S. agricultural products and thus expand agricultural exports as a result. In theory, this will lead to stronger commodity prices and increase farm income. Secretary Vilsack also suggested that the rural economy will be strengthened due to the TPP creating more “good paying export-related jobs.”
Our allies at Farm Aid disagree. They write that “trade is something most Americans are inclined to support as long as it’s fair, equitable and to the benefit of all involved. But what’s on the table today will further grow the profits of huge corporations and siphon away wealth from America’s family farmers, our rural economies and farmers around the world”. Farm Aid reflects on the impacts of an earlier agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. “A lesser-discussed consequence is how NAFTA, when paired with the 1996 Farm Bill that permanently eliminated farm price and supply management tools, caused U.S. commodity prices to plummet.” This led to the creation of the widely-criticized direct farm subsidy payment program (which has now been replaced by federally subsidized crop insurance).
Stay tuned for opportunities to take action when the final agreement is released.