Farm Bureau cheers TPA passage

President Obama’s signature on the Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast track,” legislation opens the door to creating new trade partnerships around the world that will drive American business forward in the international marketplace, said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman on June 29.

“The American economy stands stronger when we work together — and that’s just what Trade Promotion Authority enables us to do at the bargaining table. U.S. agriculture is ready for ambitious trade agreements that break down barriers to products grown and made in America, so our trading partners know we mean business,” Stallman said.

For the past 40 years, TPA and its precedent versions have provided U.S. negotiators the ability to reach agreement with other nations on trade matters that are not open to change by Congress. Yet TPA has protected Congress’ constitutional role to set trade objectives and preserved lawmakers’ final “yea” or “nay” on the agreement.

“Passage of TPA allows Congress to vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership in a timely manner, which will allow Oregon and U.S. agriculture to further flourish,” said OFB President Barry Bushue.

Oregon Farm Bureau commends Senator Ron Wyden for his tenacity and dedication in making TPA a reality, and Reps. Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader, Suzanne Bonamici, and Earl Bluemenauer for also supporting the legislation.

Marion County Farm Bureau member Doug Krahmer, a blueberry grower with 500 acres, also praised the trade developments saying, “We are blessed in Oregon to grow more blueberries than we can possibly eat, and their incredible flavor, consistent quality, and high nutritional value make them hot commodities around the world.

“Reducing trade barriers is good for local jobs and is a fantastic opportunity to share world-famous Oregon crops, like blueberries, with other countries,” said Krahmer.

International trade is one of the most important economic opportunities for Oregon workers. Trade in Oregon supports over 490,000 jobs. In the last Farm Bureau cheers TPA passage decade, trade-dependent jobs grew 7.5 times faster than total employment. Wages in trade-dependent jobs are 20% to 40% higher than non-export jobs. Exports, now totaling nearly $21 billion, have increased by 40% since the recession year of 2009. Greater Portland was one of only four regions in the U.S. to double texports over the last decade.

Trade also is vital to the growth of small companies,which export directly and supply export-dependent large businesses. A total of 6,001 companies exported goods from Oregon locations in 2012. Of Oregon’s exporting companies, 88% were small- and medium-sized enterprises. Small and medium sized firms generated 34% of Oregon’s total exports of merchandise in 2012.

In countries where the United States has free trade agreements, exports of U.S. food and agricultural products have grown significantly. Oregon’s agricultural exports reached an estimated $2.3 billion in 2013, up from $1.5 billion in 2009. Oregon’s exports help boost farm prices and income, while supporting about 17,400 jobs both on the farm and in related industries, such as food processing, transportation, and manufacturing.

Oregon’s top five agricultural exports in 2013 were wheat ($297 million), processed fruits and nuts ($241 million), fresh fruits ($115 million), processed vegetables ($100 million), and dairy products ($88 million).

Nationwide, U.S. food and agricultural exports reached a record $150.5 billion in 2014, supporting more than one million American jobs. Global demand for these products is growing, but so is competition among suppliers.