Veronica Nigh update on Trade Agreements

(Veronica Nigh) Sure, the trade front has been a very interesting one recently. If I had have been in Kansas a year ago, I would have been talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is a trade agreement that we estimated would bring an increase to net farm income of $4.4 billion per year. It was a multi-country agreement. But on the 30th of January, the new administration officially posted notice that we were withdrawing from that agreement, and that we would be pursuing a strategy of bilateral trade agreements. Maybe a free trade agreement with Japan, or a free trade agreement with the UK, rather than larger multilateral deals. There’s been a lot to react to, the administration has made clear that they intend to have good agreements, that those standards will apply for agreements going forward, they’ll also look back at agreements that we’ve already signed to try and see if they are achieving all the goals that they had in mind. Sitting and waiting is never the thing that we should do, especially on the trade front. While trade is incredibly important to US agriculture, about 25% of our receipts come from international trade. But in the larger sense, ag exports only make up 7% to 10% of all US exports. It’s incredibly important to us but then in a larger sense, we’re a fairly small piece of that pie. We need to make sure that our legislators, our senators, know how important trade is. That while we’re certainly supportive of making sure trade agreements are good for all of the US economy, we certainly don’t want to be traded off against those other industries, because trade’s been good for us., I think a good example of that is NAFTA, there’s been discussion that maybe renegotiation of NAFTA would be a good idea. US ag exports have quadrupled since NAFTA was implemented. That’s one of those examples of trade being really good for agriculture and that agreement having been good for agriculture; but maybe other segments of the economy feeling less comfortable with the agreement. If we are in a situation where we renegotiate that agreement, we want to make sure that agriculture isn’t any worse off than it was before that renegotiation occurred. Please go to Kansas Farm Bureau’s website, to American Farm Bureau’s website, we’re very conscious of keeping the information up to date. One of the things that is atop of everyone’s mind, is when will the Secretary of Agriculture be confirmed, when will the Secretary of Commerce be confirmed, when will the US Trade Representative be confirmed. Those are all folks who are very important to Agriculture on the trade front. On that, that’s anybody’s best guess but certainly watch the senate calendar. Those folks are in session next week, then they take the week off for Presidents Day, that’s the week of February 20. In the next three to four weeks we could certainly see a number of those confirmations coming forward. If those are folks that you feel strongly about them being confirmed, reach out to your senators and tell them that it’s important that those people are confirmed so that we can start talking about trade, going forward and not just looking back.

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