With TPP, She's On The Fence
(photo from gettyimages.com)
It's an altogether impressive agenda, for sure, even though there isn't much in the way of an explanation as to how her administration would find the money to pay for all these promises. But, given that quasi-socialist Bernie Sanders (He calls himself a "democratic socialist," which to me seems like an effort to make him sound more socialist than Democrat or, from another perspective, more Democrat than socialist. That merits a big "huh?", but that's the idea. If you're not already thoroughly confused, his rhetorical sleight-of-hand hasn't worked on you yet . . . give it time.) is giving her a good run for the Dem nomination, Clinton probably has to focus more on promises than delivery just now. All of which is okay, or at least par for the political course at this stage of the campaign, where candidates tend to run to the extremes during the primary and run more to the middle in the general.
Only problem is, the Clinton campaign seems to ignore the most compelling reason that most producers would need to win their votes. Ag production is all about prices, and nowhere in the Clinton literature do I see much about ways to help farmers and livestock producers better prices for their goods. Considering that agriculture is by far the biggest component in South Dakota's economy, her thoughts on how to find ways of delivering better and more lucrative marketing opportunities to the ag industry aren't the entree of her appeal to rural Americans. I'm not sure they're even a side dish. Fact is, by backtracking spectacularly on her support for the farmer/rancher-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership during the Democratic debate this week, Clinton actually antagonized the largest food production organizations in the country.
Forced to politically kow-tow to the Sanders wing of the party, which sees TPP as a vehicle for "big money" interests to continue to exploit the working stiffs of this world, Clinton backed
|Marketing U.S. Beef In Tokyo, 2015|
TPP Stands To Help Out With This
(photo from gettyimages.com)
These groups and their members have one thing in common: they all do well when American ag exports are strong. More relevant to South Dakota, our ag exports to China, which has expressed interest in becoming a key member of this agreement (after a long period of skepticism) have skyrocketed in the past decade, up 453% to nearly $900 million a year. To put it in some perspective, more than a third of South Dakota's soybeans are sold to China. TPP, by further lowering tariffs, would only make our state's production even more competitive in the growing and lucrative east Asian markets, where the Trans Pacific Partnership is focused.
So even as I admire Clinton's aim to make day to day life better in states like South Dakota, her sudden waffling of support for TPP makes me wonder if she really cares or understands what drives our state's economy from the get-go: grain and livestock prices. She needs to explain to us why she's backing away from a deal that can only be good for the vast majority of South Dakota's farmers and ranchers.