VOICE OF AG – May 31st, 2016
Trade is essential for rural Colorado
By Senator Jerry Sonnenberg
Colorado is at the heart of agricultural trade in America, bringing high quality meat and vegetables to people throughout the country and beyond. As a native of Colorado, a lifelong rancher and State Senator chairing the committee that deals with agriculture , I have seen firsthand the widespread benefits of our beef, pork, vegetables and other agricultural exports. Trade is truly a cornerstone of Colorado’s economy, and our products support families statewide. In order to bolster our economy and help workers across Colorado, we need the Trans-Pacific Partnership to pass this year.
The advantages of the TPP cannot be overemphasized in a state where nearly 282,900 jobs are supported by trade with those TPP partner countries. 47 percent of goods are exported from Colorado are destined for TPP countries, making its passage vital to the economic success of Colorado ranchers, farmers, and manufacturers alike.
It is my family, friends and community that will be see positive impacts from TPP. It will be easier for small business owners to get their products to emerging markets. In Colorado we pride ourselves on our integrity and hard work, and we bring those values to everything we make and sell. Unfortunately, we currently face many unnecessary barriers when we try to trade our goods internationally. Vietnam, for instance, taxes our beef exports with a tariffs as high as 34 percent. The TPP will eliminate these tariffs, as well as nearly 18,000 others with TPP-partner nations.
As a rancher, beef is clearly an area of particular concern to my business. Beef exports alone brought the state more than $3.8 billion dollars in 2014, supporting the hardworking members of our community. Passing the TPP could increase that number by over $60 million each year, putting more money into the pockets of the dedicated men and women of our state. More importantly, this landmark trade deal will bring numerous benefits to farmers across Colorado and will allow the agricultural industry to add more than 800 jobs as a result of increased trade.
Colorado ranchers and farmers represent the backbone of our great state and we need to support them by giving them the opportunity to thrive in international markets. The TPP is a rare international policy that will have a tangible effect on our community, and we would like for it to be enacted as soon as possible. American goods are associated with high quality, but this means nothing if they cannot reach other countries. When the United States leads in the global economy, Colorado benefits and that is why we need our representatives in Congress to pass the TPP in 2016.
I am a proud Constitutional Conservative – No one has been a fiercer critic of misguided policies coming out of Washington – However, trade is a conservative value – it leads to private sector jobs. Trade builds businesses and enhances our economy. As Americans we can compete with anyone in the world if the playing field is level. The TPP levels that arena and will lead to more new businesses, expansion of existing ones and more good paying jobs in agriculture, high tech and other areas.