By: Bob Naerebout & Daragh Maccabee –
The Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Idaho’s largest dairy producer trade association, and Glanbia Foods Inc., Idaho’s largest dairy processor, express our sincerest thanks to Sen. Mike Crapo for his recent support of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. The bill, more commonly referred to as the Trade Promotion Authority bill, recently passed 20-6 with strong bipartisan support through the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
The TPA bill is critically necessary to allow the United States to negotiate the best trade agreements possible. Progressive trade agreements will promote American growth and jobs by enabling Idaho businesses, including agriculture, to market more U.S. goods and services to foreign customers.
Exports are a crucial part of Idaho agriculture. The 2014 Agricultural Facts, published earlier this year by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, showed that 2013 Idaho agriculture exports totaled $2.59 billion, equal to 31 percent of total Idaho cash receipts from agriculture. Dairy exports totaled $428 million, second to only wheat, where exports reached over a half-billion dollars. Four additional Idaho agriculture sectors processed vegetables, beef, fresh vegetables and animal feed – exported products worth more than $100 million during the year.
Seven countries out of the top 10 export markets for Idaho agricultural products are part of current trade negotiations, including six that are currently part of Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. Of these seven countries, the U.S. dairy industry currently enjoys mostly free trade with only one – Mexico. The TPA bill will provide our trade negotiators with increased leverage to further open markets with our trading partners, such as Japan and Canada, which make it very difficult, if not impossible, to export many of our dairy products to these two countries.
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