Posted February 1, 2018
Trade was a leading topic at the Kansas Commodity Classic on January 26. Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran gave insight into the Administration’s views on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Senator Roberts chairs the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He commented on the state of the agriculture economy and how important trade policy is to the economy.
“We’re in a rough patch,” said Roberts. “This is the third year in a row, as you know, with a supply / demand situation, plus a situation in Washington where our trade policy has yet really to be determined. I think that’s probably the most important thing we can do in Washington – both Democrat and Republication – to insist on a robust and positive trade policy.”
NAFTA has been beneficial to the U.S. and Kansas agriculture economies. According to keynote speaker Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, Professor Emeritus, Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics, people don’t talk enough about the benefits of the agreement.
“NAFTA created a net of jobs in this country – good jobs. If you take the number of jobs, you multiply it by the wages and salaries of those jobs, NAFTA has a net positive on job creation. You just don’t hear that,” he said.
“NAFTA is unique; it works for all three – U.S., Mexico and Canada. Mexico and Canada are now in the top three of our customers, along with China. If we pull the plug on NAFTA, we’re going to lose those markets to Brazil, Argentina and Europe. And once you lose them, it’s tough to get them back.”
Flinchbaugh said, “Now, the President is on record, saying he supports NAFTA, and we have to hold his feet to the fire. We simply cannot let him pull that plug.”
President Trump recently said that he would reconsider the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Senator Moran told attendees, “I was pleased to hear President Trump talk about TPP and that we’d be glad to be a participant.”
According to U.S. Wheat Associates, the TPP-11 agreement that moves forward without the United States puts U.S. wheat producers at a total price disadvantage of more than $200 million per year.
Moran said, “We need to be a participant….whatever the trade agreement is. If we’re going to move to bilateral, we need to see negotiations on those trade agreements now, this year, this past year. And those discussions are not taking place.”
Roberts agreed, stating “Maybe Humpty Dumpty hasn’t been pushed so far over that we can’t put him back up and participate in TPP. And certainly with NAFTA that we don’t have to do the same kind of situation, so it’s about, I would say 50/50 right now and that’s why we really have to weigh in.”
Both Senators called for farmers to continue weighing in with their comments and concerns on trade.
Moran said, “We have a lot at stake and I would encourage all of you to continue the effort. Don’t think that this issue is going away or has gone away. It’s real and the consequences are serious.”
Other speakers on the topic of trade included Molly O’Connor, Biotech, Food and Trade Policy Advisor with the National Association of Wheat Growers, and Mike Dwyer, Chief Economist with the U.S. Grains Council.
The Kansas Commodity Classic is the annual convention of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.