WASHINGTON — The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is fervently in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in an election year marked by anti-free trade rhetoric. However, the pork association believes the candidates are more supportive of free trade than “they are letting on.”
“I think they do understand the importance of trade. We have 97 percent of the global population living outside of the borders of the United States and you simply can’t ignore that statistic,” John Webber president of the NPPC said Thursday at a media roundtable. The group has just finished its spring legislative fly-in, in which nearly 150 pork producers participated in.
Nick Giordano, the council’s vice president of global government affairs, said, “We want this agreement passed, it’s very important, we are pro-trade.”
He added, “The prospect of this not becoming law at some point I think is scary and would be a huge hit to the stature of the United States and to our geopolitical standing in the world and commercially.”
The pork industry has benefited greatly from free trade, since the U.S has started opening international markets for agriculture goods in 1989 pork exports have increased by 1550 percent in value. “We’re the poster-child for expanding trade,” Giordano said.
While pork producers are certainly fans of free trade, the respective frontrunners in each party have voiced opposition to the 12 nation TPP trade agreement. Hillary Clinton, who previously supported TPP, flipped her position and said, “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”
Donald Trump has come out stronger against the deal. “The deal is insanity,” Trump said in November. He added, “that deal should not be supported and it should not be allowed to happen.”
It isn’t only political figures who stand against the deal, polling shows that American voters aren’t a fan of it either. In a poll released Thursday by Morning Consult, 29 percent of registered voters opposed the deal, 26 support it. However, in that same poll, 72 percent either had heard nothing or “not much” of the deal.
A March poll conducted by Pat Caddell solved this issue of ignorance by first polling subjects and then informing them of the deal. Once informed 45 percent opposed it and 32 percent supported it.
NPPC president John Weber said he is “absolutely” worried about the rhetoric coming from Clinton and Trump.
However, he said, “I think you have to read between the lines.” Weber said previously in the meeting, “I think [the presidential candidates] understand the importance of trade more than they are letting on during this campaign. I think they have to play to constituents.”
“In the end TPP itself is such a significant thing that whoever the new leader of this new country will be, in reality can you walk away from it? I don’t think so, “NPPC CEO Neil Dierks said. He added, “If you do, if the willingness is there to do it, maybe we’re condemned to relive the 30s with erecting tariffs and everything else which was exactly the opposite of what you should do in a depression.”