An official from the U-S Department of Agriculture paid a visit to the Spokane area Thursday, and she brought hopeful news about increased exports from our region. Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign agricultural services, Alexis Taylor, toured the Spokane Seed company.
The company is an industry leader in processing dry peas, lentils, and chick peas, which are shipped worldwide. Taylor says a pending trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership will mean a great deal to wheat and fruit growers in Eastern Washington. She cites the example of Japan.
Taylor: “Currently we are facing very high tariffs there, in a very complicated and restrictive import system. So this agreement will lower those tariffs making our wheat able to compete in that market, for some of the fruit, our fresh fruits face tariffs in the region as high as forty percent, and so were working to lower those tariffs as well.”
Taylor adds that it’s not just the agricultural community that benefits from increased exports.
Taylor: “For every dollar in agricultural exports, it stimulates another one dollar and 22 cents in business activities in those communities. Also for every one billion dollars in exports it stimulates about 7,500 jobs, and most of those are jobs off the farm.”
For eastern Washington’s congressional district five, agricultural exports reached $412 million last year. Nations that are part of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations include Japan, Australia, Chile, Singapore and Vietnam. President Obama is currently seeking authority from Congress to be able to get a “fast track” authority on the pact— where the agreement gets an up-or-down vote, without amendments.