As part of the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn.’s (NCBA) annual Legislative Conference, which started Wednesday morning, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman stressed the cost of inaction on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
More than 300 cattle producers embarked to Washington, D.C., to meet with their congressional members, and TPP is at the top of the list of items for discussion.
After more than five years of negotiations, the U.S. reached a TPP agreement on Oct. 5, 2015, with many of the countries in the Pacific Rim. NCBA and state affiliates have been advocating for this agreement to move forward because of the tremendous benefits it will provide for U.S. beef producers by significantly reducing tariffs on beef products.
“Swift passage of TPP is the top legislative priority for cattle producers, and we need to see passage of TPP this congressional session,” NCBA vice president Kevin Kester said. “There is simply no better way to show Congress the importance of this issue than cattle men and women meeting directly with their representatives and senators. Capitol Hill needs to understand that delaying action on TPP is costing (cattle producers) real money.”
While speaking to the producers, Froman emphasized that U.S. beef exports will increase by 444 million lb. due to TPP, resulting in increased cash receipts totaling $1.14 billion.
“All told, it’s estimated that TPP will boost annual net farm income in the United States by $4.4 billion,” Froman said, citing an American Farm Bureau Federation study released earlier this year. “With these benefits at hand, the cost of inaction is alarming. Together, let’s ensure we never pay them.”
The message resonated with cattle producers, who experience daily erosion of U.S. market share in leading export markets like Japan. Kester said the U.S. must continue to embrace trade and expand market access for its products.
“The U.S. cattle industry relies on international trade to add value and stabilize markets,” Kester said. “Global consumers demand high-quality U.S. beef muscle cuts, but exports are especially critical in adding value to otherwise undervalued cuts such as variety meats and offal. While they have little value domestically, cuts such as tongue and tripe fetch premiums in the Asia and Pacific Rim markets. There are no other global markets that can absorb that demand if we cannot remain competitive in the Pacific.”
The visit to Washington comes after many livestock and agriculture industry organizations submitted a letter on Monday to express support for passage of TPP.
“This showing of support from a diverse group of commodity associations, producers, manufacturers and food companies demonstrates the potential economic impact we all expect from TPP. While some cling to the past or dig their heels doggedly in the present, trade is for the future, and cattle producers embrace that future,” the letter said.