Congress has introduced the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. This bill would all but ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would go through. It hands over the Constitutional authority of Congress to review trade agreements to the President. Many members of Congress have yet to declare their position on TPA. They need to hear from their constituents that TPA is the wrong course for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
Promises of expanded trade benefiting U.S. farmers and rural communities have been made during the debates for NAFTA, CAFTA, and the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreements and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These benefits have failed to materialize. Instead, rural communities have been roiled by profound economic instability. The trade deficit was $505 billion in 2014, a full 3 percent drag on our nation’s GDP.
Even agriculture, which typically has a surplus in trade, has suffered the consequences of free trade. On the three year anniversary of the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement, agricultural exports to Korea have stagnated, growing an estimated zero percent, yet agricultural imports from Korea have increased 28 percent under the free trade agreement.
Because of the secrecy of the negotiating process, it is impossible to know whether domestic laws such as Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and other policies to strengthen rural economies, including vital reforms that would reduce our existing trade deficit, are being traded away.