Members of Indiana’s agricultural sector were big supporters of the now-officially defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now, they’re looking for ways to salvage some of the trade opportunities it offered.
Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist Bob White says TTP and its counterpart T-TIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, would have been a boon in a time when farm profits are shrinking.
“Agriculture as a whole is heavily dependent on, basically, our export market,” says White, who notes Indiana already sells about one-third of its grain overseas. “And in a low economy for agriculture, we’re looking to increase those exports.”
White says bilateral, agriculture-only agreements – such as those the U.S. has with the European Union – could take the place of big trade deals. President Donald Trump has suggested he’ll pursue more of those.
Trump has also promised to rework other big pacts, such as NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
That deal has been blamed for outsourcing in the manufacturing sector, but it’s also benefited farmers. White says those two industries will be tough to untangle if NAFTA is renegotiated.
But he says he’s hopeful Indiana’s agricultural interests will have help from Congress, and from presumptive Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The former Georgia governor has spent the past few years as an export consultant.