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Federal trade agreements may impact Wisconsin agriculture

UNDATED (WRN) As work continues on new federal trade agreements, some farmers are raising concerns about the impact those deals could have on Wisconsin agriculture.

Close door negotiations have been underway on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Matt Urch, a farmer from Viroqua, says those deals could force changes to state ag programs and policies. He worries that requirements, such as country of origin labeling, or even local food purchasing programs, could be struck down as barriers to trade.

Urch recently traveled to Washington D.C. with the Food and Ag Justice Collaboration to lobby lawmakers on the future of the trade agreements. Both deals are expected to broaden markets for U.S. products in both Asian and European markets. However, Urch says there are also concerns that they could flood the North American market as well with new competition, which local producers may have a hard time competing with.

In addition to the possible impact of those deals, he says another concern is that the talks are being done largely in secret, with little input from the public or Congress. “Our concern is that, first of all, they are trying to get fast track authority for these agreements, which would mean Congress would have very limited input.”

Urch says the negotiations need to be more transparent, and include more input from key industry stakeholders.