Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy 2016 class members used examples from their own lives and businesses to explain how vital the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is during a national affairs visit to Washington D.C.
“International trade remains critical to Nebraska, particularly with the recent downturn in the agricultural economy. Prices for agricultural commodities have fallen significantly over the past two years and recent USDA projections of more than 30 percent reduction in net farm income, as compared to 2013, only highlights the need to find new markets for Nebraska agricultural products. The passage of TPP is a key ingredient to help boost Nebraska’s agricultural economy,” Jordan Dux, director of national affairs said Sept. 9.
Leadership Academy members shared their concerns about the current dangerous combination of high operating costs and higher debt loads with Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation. It was important for those on the trip to mention the drastic reduction on net farm income and the substantial pressure it is putting on their family farms and ranches and how trade will increase their ability to handle such a downturn.
Passage of TPP continues to be a Farm Bureau priority. According to analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau (AFBF), the TPP will increase annual net farm income by $4.4 billion and increase U.S. agricultural exports by $5.3 billion per year. Nebraska also stands to make significant annual gains from the TPP with a $378.5 million increase in ag cash receipts and a $229.2 million boost to ag exports.
“If the U.S. fails to enact TPP, our trade situation won’t even maintain its current level, rather, it will actually lead to declining net exports and Nebraska farmers will lose market share in important Asian export markets.,” Dux said.
Another issue front and center during the trip was the increased cost of health insurance. Soaring health insurance premiums have thwarted the ability of many small business owners to provide, and their employees to obtain, health coverage. From 2010 to 2015, premiums for small firms increased 25 percent, from an average monthly family premium of $1,104 to $1,385.
“Farmers and ranchers are trapped in a broken health insurance marketplace with few options and high insurance costs. They need market-based reform that lowers costs and increases choices for private health insurance. Health insurance reform is essential, but it must also be workable, affordable, sustainable and balanced against the overall cost of doing business,” Dux said.
Besides visiting with Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy met with officials from the Embassy of Australia, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Progressive Policy Institute and USDA’s office for New and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Programs.
Those attending the National Affairs visit are:
- Bryce Doeschot – Lancaster County
- Darrel Entz – Custer County
- Branson Essink – Otoe County
- Chelsey Girard – Polk County
- Robert Hartman – Chase County
- Erin Norman – Dawes County
- Joe Sateren – Cuming County
- Rebecca Schwarz – Phelps/Gosper County