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Representative Darin LaHood

Representing the 18th District of Illinois

Trade Undeniably Benefits Central Illinois

September 17, 2016
Op-Ed

This month, farmers across Illinois will begin to harvest their crops.

Imagine that the returns from these crop yields are double what farmers earned last year. How would that enable them to expand their farming operation, support their families, and contribute more to their communities? And how would that impact you?

In today’s global economy, it’s all connected. When 18th District farmers sell more corn, soybeans, or pork bellies they're able to expand their operation and purchase new equipment from Illinois-based manufacturers such as John Deere or CNH Industrial, which in turn can create more high-paying jobs.

So what sparks such economic activity and job creation? Free and fair trade.

Our economy is crawling along at barely 1 percent growth. In order to get us back to 3 percent growth, we must increase America's global competitiveness. To do that we need to expand markets through increased global trade.

With all the rhetoric and untruths circulating about trade, it is time to set the record straight.

Trade is already responsible for nearly 40 million American jobs. One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports. One in three farm acres is planted for export. Last year, U.S. exports of goods and services reached nearly $2.23 trillion. American workers, farmers, and small businesses can compete (and win) in the world economy if given the right opportunities.

Fact is, 95 percent of the world’s population lives beyond our borders. The 18th District is uniquely positioned to benefit from increased trade with these potential new consumers given that we are home to the country’s most fertile farmland, its most renowned manufacturing companies, and countless small businesses — the hardest workers I know.

Caterpillar Inc., for example, is working hard to expand trade with Cuba. Cuba needs Caterpillar products including infrastructure, power generation, mining and rail equipment. I also support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and let other countries unilaterally write the rules of the game. If we do, our 18th District farmers and manufacturers will be left behind.

It’s no coincidence that the American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Federation of Independent Business, and even President Obama all support the TPP and trade with Cuba.

The bottom line is that trade creates more jobs and economic opportunities in central Illinois.

Darin LaHood represents the 18th District including Peoria in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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