Ag Groups See Their Chance at Fair Trade with Japan


Farm and food groups see no better time than now to press President Donald Trump to talk trade with Japan’s Prime Minister, arrived in Washington Friday for a state visit.

Ag and food groups still ‘stinging’ from President Trump’s decision to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership want nothing more now than to see the two linchpins of the Trans-Pacific deal, the U.S. and Japan, strike a new bilateral agreement.

The National Pork Producers Council and The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent their own letter to the President. NCBA’s Kent Bacus says the hope is trade is on the agenda during the Prime Minister’s visit…

“I don’t know what all is going to be on the agenda for their meeting, but we would hope, and we would anticipate that trade being such an important issue right now, would be on that agenda.

And specifically agricultural trade, with beef, and pork and the other commodities that stand to benefit the most with improved access to the Japanese market.”     

Bacus argues expanding US agricultural trade in Asia should start with Japan which purchased $1.4 billion worth of U.S. beef in the last fiscal year, and $1.5 billion worth of U.S. pork…

“Japan is our largest export market.  And we’re excited they’re going to be here, we want trade to be a part of the overall discussion, it’s very important for us.  As I mentioned, Japan is the biggest export market for US beef, but, if we do not secure a level playing field as far as tariffs are concerned, we’re going to lose a lot of market share here in the next couple of years.”                  

Bacus says a Japan-Australia deal gives Australian beef an 11-percent tariff advantage over U.S. beef in Japan. The TPP would have dramatically cut Japan’s tariffs on US beef and pork. But there’s more to farm groups’ latest push than just trade. There’s also politics…

“We have production in all 50 states, and we represent a large number and a large segment of the ag industry, and primarily and ag industry that has been very supportive of President Trump, so we need him to be supportive of our initiatives as well.”                           

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (sheen-zoh ah-bay) will arrive with a reported $450 Billion U.S. infrastructure investment plan worth 700,000 new jobs, so it is no surprise close to 100-some agriculture and food groups and firms see their chance this week.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.