Farmers: If you love TPP, get out and get loud

Because the opponents are likely to declare holy war on it

There’s no way the government would back out of its newly announced support for the re-engineered Trans Pacific Partnership, right?

No way at all! That’d be humiliating.

That’d be like announcing major small business tax changes and then have to painfully back out of them in the face of outrage and denunciation . . .

Right, they did that.

Hmmmmmmm . . .

This is why you should get out and get loud about your support of the TPP if you want to help make sure the government actually pushes it through Parliament in the next couple of months. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement in Davos yesterday would be hard to turn away from, but like with the tax situation, it’s not like it can’t happen.

And you can be sure that anybody thinking they will be hurt by this deal will be out fast and loud to denounce the deal. That might include autoworkers, who have a lot of political weight in Ontario and Quebec, which is the area that is responsible for getting the present government elected.

Most Western Canadian farmers are winners in the TPP, without question. Our main farm products – wheat, canola, pork and beef – all face better export prospects if this deal gets approved. It’s especially important in the face of U.S. trade belligerence that has already proven that the current Trump administration is willing to play dangerous and dirty games with international trade and its international relationships. Canadian farmers rely far too much upon the U.S. market and need more outlets. TPP opens a big outlet with lots of growth potential.

TPP also offers our ag exporters preferential access to choice foreign markets, like Japan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the U.S. to lose market share for wheat in Japan to Canada and Australia because of TPP, and to the European Union because of the Japan-EU trade deal. If South Korea ends up joining the TPP (they have said they want to join), Canada will have preferential access to that high-paying market for pork sales, and the U.S. will lose. If the U.S. blocks or harasses Canadian access to its market, snatching some tasty market share from the U.S. in Japan and other parts of the Pacific Rim would be a satisfying form of payback.

So even just as an insurance policy, TPP offers something needed for most Western Canadian farmers.

There are lots of celebrations and much joy among farmers and agriculture exporters today, as if this is a done deal. But there’s a lot riding on this, so if you want to help make sure this thing gets passed in Parliament, make sure you are just as loud as the opponents. Call your MP. Talk to your customers and suppliers and service providers. Make sure it’s not just the opponents who are getting loud and being heard.

The government has already demonstrated it is willing to listen to people – including farmers – and change its approach if it is too unpopular. It’s up to you what they hear.

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