J.B.Penn has spent his career shaping U.S. agricultural policy. Starting on President Carter’s Council of Economic Affairs, he stayed on to run USDA’s Economic Research Bureau under the Reagan Administration, then entered the private sector with Informa Economics, retuning to USDA as Undersecretary during the George W Bush administration. For the past decade, Penn has been the chief economist for Deere and Company.
Deere exports agricultural, construction and forestry equipment to 130 countries around the world, so they are very concerned about international trade.
Penn points out that modern agriculture, and agribusiness, depends on trade for its viability.
Penn credits international trade agreements for opening markets to U.S. business and agriculture and says the Trans Pacific Partnership will add to the prosperity that exports bring to the ag sector.
While past agreements, like NAFTA have been good, Penn says the TPP is much better as it will not only boost exports, but protect American business and labor from unfair economic and labor practices. Trade agreements, including the TPP, have been blamed for job losses during the current presidential campaign. Penn says this accusation doesn’t hold water as trade agreements have created far more jobs than they have cost. As far as ‘tearing up all those agreements’, as we have heard during the election campaign, Penn says that would be economic suicide for the nation, and Ag in particular.