There has been a great deal of consternation across the country as groups lobby either for or against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) now that an agreement in principle has been reached between 12 Pacific Rim countries. While one can debate the benefits of the TPP and other similar agreements, there is no doubt that agriculture depends on international sales.
"Overall, 30 percent of all agricultural sales are export related while 20 percent of all ag income depends on exports," USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told those attending the joint annual meeting of the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management Inc.
"We have seen a tremendous increase of productivity across the board in American agriculture. Export markets allow us to basically take that surplus that we are capable of creating, allowing us to be a food secure nation, and send that excess to create jobs here and to provide nutrition elsewhere," he said at the late October meeting.
"It's a great marketing opportunity for the U.S.," he explained, noting that agriculture not only benefits but so do workers.
"We know that export-related jobs are better paying jobs, earning about 13 to 18 percent more in wages. There are roughly 11 million export related jobs in the U.S. economy today and one million are supported by agriculture," noted Vilsack.
Even though some in dairy circles are concerned about the lack of market access to Canada and New Zealand's dairy marketing prowess, there are some wins in the TPP and preexisting trade agreements.
"When we entered into a free trade agreement with Australia about 10 years ago, Australia was sending about $174 million of dairy products into the U.S. and we were sending $6 million of our product to them. Today, Australia sends us roughly $70 million and we are sending to them $173 million in dairy products. I am just blown away be this statistic," stated Secretary Vilsack.
"So we have literally turned this thing upside down. And in a large part its because of the incredible innovation and quality of what you all (dairy farmers) produce. Its an amazing story and speaks well of the dairy industry in this country," he concluded.
(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
January 11, 2016