As a second-generation farmer here in “Hell to Pay” (Eltopia) Washington, I am thankful our new commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, saw the erroneous Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for what it was and took America’s participation off the table.
As I was raised to be a Constitution-loving patriot of America, I was appalled to see this 5,500-plus page collaboration supported by so many of our elected officials and fellow citizens, including some of my fellow farmers and farm organizations.
My family farms alfalfa and Timothy hay. We rely on foreign trade to keep our bottom line in the black. Article 30 and 31 of the TPP agreement would have imposed quotas on U.S. agricultural goods being exported to foreign countries. As an agricultural producer, you would be dealing with a foreign government entity that would issue certificates of purchase rather than you personally dealing with your buyer.
TPP was slated to be an agreement between 12 countries, each having one vote and each having an equal power in any dispute. In Article 27, members of Congress, both House and Senate, who supported and endorsed this agreement neutered themselves of power involving foreign trade. They would have granted the Trans-Pacific Partner Commission more power than is wielded by our own Congress.
Why would Congress even consider giving up our sovereignty as a nation through any agreement or treaty? This document, secretly contrived and written to exist as a living, evolving document that could be altered on a whim, certainly was not in our nation’s best interest.
Article 20.4 was a vehicle to pass Obama’s Climate Change Treaty. What the hell is climate change doing in a trade agreement? Since farmers and ranchers are heavy “fossil fuel” consumers, I find this to be another attack on our bottom line with a burdensome carbon tax threat.
With current agricultural commodity prices at a troubling low, (partially due to the West Coast port slowdown that our then fearless leader failed to act upon) I think you can see my concern. Article 18 of TPP reduced one’s property of thought or “patent” by reducing the length–of-time protection. Farmers and ranchers are always using the matter between their ears to figure out a better, more efficient, or more economic way of getting their work done. Innovation, creativity, and a “get ’er done” attitude has led the way of ideas, or “patents” to be filed for the protection of American inventions.
Why would we allow innovation to be punished? U.S. innovation is far superior to the world-stage of ideas because of our freedom.
Agriculture across the U.S. is dependent on being able to secure workers in a timely manner to plant, manage and harvest our agricultural products. Article l0 and Article 12 would allow companies the ability to legally bring in foreign workers. This not only robs agricultural jobs but affects jobs in all of America.
Let’s face facts. Not everyone wants to sit behind a desk or pick up an unemployment check. Many Americans want a purpose in life and embrace the three pillars of American exceptionalism: rugged individualism, self-reliance and personal responsibility. So why do we allow our hard-earned tax dollars to be used as a means to bring in foreigners who do not always want to assimilate to American values and principles? We have a vast number of teens who could sure use an opportunity to learn the work ethic and grasp the value of earning a buck and spending a buck!
The TPP agreement contained only 5 chapters dealing with trade out of 29. That fact alone should have raised a red flag. Certainly 5,500-plus pages would be hard for any congressman or woman to digest and comprehend.
But instead our Congress gave President Obama “Fast Track Authority.” From being an immigration Trojan horse, eventually merging America with China and Russia, giving unelected international tribunals more power than our own Congress, it is hoped you can see why President Trump canceled America’s participation in this disastrous agreement.
One segment on food labeling has already passed Congress: a repeal of COOL — Country of Origin Labeling — on all meats. Imported beef, pork and poultry from foreign countries had been labeled as such, which gave the American consumer a choice.
No longer! So American consumers are playing Russian roulette with their meat purchases. Our Congress has put every American at risk. Beef has been arriving at American ports from Brazil, where the United Nations last fall reported another outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. One of the greatest assets of America is our abundant and safe food supply. Trade agreements such as the TPP jeopardize that valuable asset by jeopardizing the financial viability of the American farmer and rancher. If America’s agricultural community stays alive and well so will this great nation!
Clint Didier is a farmer and rancher, former congressional candidate and two-time Super Bowl champion from Eltopia, Wash.