Don’t Believe the Hype: U.S. Agricultural Exports Lag under Past Trade Deals, Belying Empty Promises Now Being Recycled for the TPP

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Time and again, U.S. farmers and ranchers have been promised that “free trade” agreements (FTAs) would provide a path to economic success by boosting U.S. exports while imports from trade partners would only increase minimally. Time and again, these promises have been broken. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveal that U.S. agricultural exports have lagged, agricultural imports
have surged and family farms have disappeared under existing FTAs. Undeterred by its own data, USDA has repeated the standard FTA sales pitch with claims that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would expand the status quo trade model, would “support expansion of U.S. agricultural exports, increase farm income, generate more rural economic activity, and promote job growth.” Those promises contradict the actual outcomes of past FTAs that served as the model for the TPP.