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  • Last modified 243 days ago (Jan. 26, 2017)

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Brunner reacts to trade pact withdrawl

Staff writer

Keeping a campaign promise, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to withdraw from the proposed multinational trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The action quashed the hopes some county farmers and ranchers held that the trade deal would lead to an increase in agricultural exports and greater income security.

Marion County was ranked 12th in 2016 among Kansas counties in the number of cattle, with 105,000 head.

The 5,600-page agreement was negotiated with representatives from 11 Asia-Pacific nations that encompass 40 percent of the world’s economy.

The portion that addressed trade would have reduced or eliminated tariffs on products the U.S. exports to these countries.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association disapproved of the President’s action, as did many other ag commodity groups.

“It certainly is a negative for our trade position,” said president Tracy Brunner of Ramona. “We believe that it was too important and dangerous to walk away from.”

He said when many nations sign on, it gives negotiators more leverage.

“Foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry,” Brunner said. “At the end of the day, you take the best deal.”

Roughly 20 percent of U.S. farm income comes from agricultural exports, which helps support rural communities. The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s largest market for food and agriculture.

Brunner said that $300 of the value of each calf marketed is attributable to exports. Beef, pork, poultry, and grain supplies are growing, he said, and therefore, more exports are needed to support prices received by producers.

Brunner said the lack of an agreement costs the industry $400,000 a day in lost income.

“We (the U.S.) will continue to negotiate,” Brunner said. “We hope President Trump will deliver and will include a priority for beef.”

Opponents, such as Farmers Union, say the scuttled plan favored multinational corporations and would have resulted in lower wages in the U.S. They also expressed environmental and food safety concerns.

Last modified Jan. 26, 2017

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