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Full TPP text released; Ag groups respond

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Some groups are for it, some against it and some are waiting on a more thorough review

The White House on Thursday released full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, bringing in a mixed bag of ag react.

Related: USDA releases state-by-state ag trade, TPP data

First initiated in 2008, the agreement underwent several rounds of talks before a preliminary deal – to which negotiating countries agreed – was released in early October.

It includes participation from the U.S., along with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Prior to its release, groups were optimistic about its contents, but the full release has several organizations releasing final opinions as the details become clearer.

The National Pork Producers Council, for example, long supported the deal but said it would reserve judgement until final text was available.

Thursday, NPPC President Ron Prestage returned positive comments, noting that free trade agreements like the TPP work "not just for pork producers and U.S. agriculture but for the entire U.S. economy."

The agreement is likely to increase exports of pork, Prestage added, noting that previous agreements have increased U.S. pork exports by 1550% in value and nearly 1300% in volume since 1989. Now pork exports are valued at nearly $6.7 billion, NPPC said.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who said a final TPP agreement would be "the most important commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers," estimates the TPP will exponentially increase U.S. pork exports and help create more than 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to those exports.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association thinks the deal is a good one for cattle producers, too. NCBA President Philip Ellis said it represents the highest standard of trade agreements and provides the foundation for increased access and lower tariffs to the Pacific Rim markets.

"TPP member nations already account for over 60% of total beef exports, and lower tariffs will allow us to continue to grow our market share in that region," he said.

Related: Ag fact sheets detail potential TPP impacts

While the group said the agreement isn't perfect, it's an improvement over current tariff rates. As an example, the tariff to Japan, the largest market for U.S. beef, could be reduced from 38.5% to 27.5%.

Also under the deal, tariffs will continue to decrease, in some cases be eliminated, over the next 15 years, NCBA said.

Though there was excitement over the deal for many groups, not all agreed it's a good move. The National Farmers Union, long an opponent of the deal, suggests the increased competition from abroad could dampen TPP's lauded benefits.

NFU also suggests the beef export opportunities are "very modest," citing a provision it says will allow Japan to reinstate higher tariffs if it deems that beef imports are hurting the country's farmers.

"Japan's protection, coupled with the very generous access the U.S. gave the rest of the world, will likely push down domestic prices," NFU President Roger Johnson explained, adding concern about currency modification.

"Several of the countries that are eager to ratify this agreement have recently manipulated their currencies and nothing is stopping them from doing this again," he said. "Additionally, the agreement does not have the goal or the ability to reduce our debilitating trade deficit."

Though some have made up their mind about the deal, others will spend additional time looking over the text, like the U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation.

"There are thousands of tariff lines, hundreds of new rules, new chapters on Sanitary & Phytosanitary requirements, as well as a whole new chapter on protecting common food names," the groups wrote in press comments. "In addition, there are several side letters with exemptions, clarifications and concessions. All must be thoroughly reviewed before we can make a more informed determination of the final impact of the agreement on the U.S. dairy industry."

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