President Obama meets with ag representatives, Vilsack on TPP

President Obama meets with ag representatives, Vilsack on TPP

One day after the Trans-Pacific Partnership is signed, President Obama meets with agriculture and business leaders on its impacts

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and representatives of agriculture and business on Tuesday met with President Obama in Washington, D.C., to discuss impacts of the recently agreed upon Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Related: Ag has mixed opinion on Trans-Pacific Partnership

The trade agreement, which was five years in the making, creates a "more level playing field" for the 12 involved countries: United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

President Barrack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explain how the Trans-Pacific Partnership provides a more level playing field in trade to agriculture and business leaders at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. USDA photo Bob Nichols.

According to the White House, the TPP eliminates about 18,000 taxes on U.S. goods, including a 38% tax on American beef going into Japan. It also is expected to create more American jobs as workers are businesses work to fill the needs of growing export markets.

"With this trade agreement, which spans nearly 40% of the global economy, we’re going to be able to sell more products, more services, American agriculture, American manufacturing -- we’re going to be able to get those to markets," the President said in remarks following the meeting.

In a press call Tuesday afternoon, Vilsack said like any agreement there were compromises, but "there's no question that agriculture … is going to be a winner with TPP."

Vilsack said estimates show the agreement should increase exports by $130 billion. If that's accurate and ag takes its typical share, the industry could be looking at "billions of dollars in additional opportunity" that will support farmers, ranchers and those employed by agriculture, he said.

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Vilsack said the U.S. Trade Representative has released summaries of each of the areas in the agreement but the final text will take about 30 days. Though that time frame has been criticized, he said when compared to other agreements it's a shortened schedule.

Lawyers are "scrubbing" the text, he said, making sure it's accurate and appropriately expresses what negotiators intended. That process started "months ago," he added, which shortens the inspection window to about a month.

When it's released, Congress will have appropriate time to review it, as will the public, before it is ultimately signed by the President.

"We obviously want to move this along so that folks get info they need to determine how they feel about this," Vilsack said.

Related: USDA releases state-by-state ag trade, TPP data

In the meantime, USTR has set up a special website focused on the areas of the TPP that aim to create an outline of key provisions, and Tuesday's meeting with the President was just the beginning of federal officials moving to communicate with Americans and Congress about the deal.

As for USDA, Vilsack said agriculture interests will have a special look at the impact of the agreement on their respective states and the "commodities that matter to them."

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