Friday, November 6, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is A Good Deal For South Dakota.

     There are lots of times when I wish we could turn the clock back and re-create the family
TPP Countries
Some Big Markets For SD Out There
(graphic from
-dominated rural state that South Dakota once was, but those moments of wistfulness are usually short-lived. As a business guy with a fairly long history in grain and livestock production (mainly as a cattle feeder), trading and brokerage, I have to deal with the realities in front of my face. The most persistent one is the fact that agriculture in this state, this country, and the rest of the developed world is an industry that stacks up in power, money and influence with the biggest of the world's industrial and financial behemoths.  Though I empathize with my many friends who would have it be otherwise, my inclinations lean toward public policies that encourage and support modern ag production and the many thousands of South Dakotans who depend on the industry for a living.
     So for that reason I'm a big supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that awaits approval by majorities in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.   The agreement's full text  is encyclopedic in size and detail, but good breakdowns are available from supporters and antagonists alike.  On the political front, there seems to be strong support from Republicans and mixed support among Democrats, whose most notable champion of TPP is President Obama himself. Meantime, in what I believe is a bow to the the progressive wing of the party, Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton opposes it, after having praised the deal when she was Secretary of State.   I think it will ultimately pass if only because of the split among Dems and what seems to be fairly strong popular support, with Pew Research last May noting "there is broad public agreement that international free trade agreements are good for the United States." 
SD Hogs On The Move
Next Stop?  Pacific Rim?
(photo from
    As to the question of what's in it for us, it looks to me like South Dakota stands to gain much from this deal.  The list of ag industry groups supporting TPP is impressive, if not altogether daunting, including as it does all the mainstream grain, oilseed and livestock producer organizations I can think of.  Their support is based on the general principle that freer trade opens up markets for farm and ranch goods by reducing tariffs, which has the effect of driving rural economies and creating more jobs, an undeniably positive outcome for an ag-dominated state like South Dakota. SD in particular has seen strong growth in grain and livestock markets in east Asia in recent years, a trend that will likely continue if TPP is passed, an outcome that South Dakotans should favor.  


  1. There are occasions, I'll bound, when multilateral trade agreements, even those negotiated in secret, can be advantageous to the parties involved. I suspicion this is one of those times.

  2. Why would we want to give up more of our economy to low-wage asian economies? Unless you own a motel and want wages to remain low, there is no benefit to the South Dakotan wage earners. Relinquishing control of our sovereignty over environmental/legal matters of commerce is nonsense. Submissiveness to large corporations that have no sense of patriotism is foolhardy. The corporations and politicians owned by the corporations write these trade deals and then don't even have the audacity to call them treaties. Keep it local, grow our own local economy by investing in ourselves and our own local economy.

    1. For the record, staff at my lodging enterprises make $17.50/hour.