U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talk with reporters today about the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that was just completed Monday. “This is the largest multi-lateral trade agreement of its kind,” Vilsack says, “the 12 countries that are part of this trade agreement represent 40 percent of the world’s economy. And are involved with over 40 percent of American agricultural export activity to date.”
Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, says the TPP eliminates are reduces a series of taxes or tariffs against U.S. agricultural products. “This is an opportunity for the United States to continue expanding agricultural exports, providing through this agreement a level playing field for American producers. This is a very high-value, high-standards agreement,” according to Vilsack.
He says the agreement cuts the tariffs and increases preferential treatment for virtually all commodity groups. “Beef, pork, poultry, dairy, horticulture, rice, grains, soybeans, wheat, cotton,” Vilsack says. Vilsack says the experts are going through the agreement now and the final copy should be available in 30 days.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says it’s too early to make a complete judgment on how the agreement will impact Iowa.
“We’ve heard some good things about what’s in that agreement, nothing firm, and it’ll be probably at least several weeks before we see what’s in it. But, especially meat exports, Iowa is big exporter of pork of course and certainly our beef goes overseas, and some grains too,” Northey says. He says releasing tariffs on beef and pork could really help Iowa producers.
“The meat trade historically has been rife with import tariffs and other kinds of arrangements that limit our meat going into some of the Asian markets. And this is reported to take away some of those barriers that would allow a little more exporting of meat,” according to Northey. He says farmers and farm organizations in Iowa have worked hard to promote trade in many of the countries that are part of the TPP and the state is well placed to benefit from additional market access.