Ryan Quarles fundraising against potential tobacco carve out in Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

07/30/2015 04:11 PM

Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown, is organizing his supporters in an effort to fight back against a potentially bad deal for Kentucky farmers being negotiated on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and help him become the next agriculture commissioner.

Quarles first warned of a possible carve out in 2011 telling the state interim joint Agriculture Committee that the TPPA could lead to tobacco being excluded from a 12-country trade agreement in the Pacific Rim, something he calls a “slippery slope” for agricultural commodities.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau agrees that the TPPA could potentially be damaging to state agricultural commodities, but officials there said it’s hard to know what’s actually in or out of the negotiated deal.

Joe Cain, KFB’s commodities director, told Pure Politics Thursday that no single legal commodity should be kept from a free trade agreement. Cain said they worry of the slippery slope singling out one industry could have — the state also has a healthy export of bourbon.

This week negotiators for the United States met in Maui, Hawaii, in what’s billed as the final round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The trade deal is massive, representing potentially 40 percent of the world’s economic output, the New York Times reports.

Issues being negotiated go beyond agriculture commodities — the Trans-Pacific Partnership is also said to include automobiles, shoes and textiles.

This week Quarles sent an email to supporters calling on them “contact Michael Froman, Obama’s United States Trade Representative, and tell him to stop threatening our family farms.”

Quarles’ campaign email also asked supporters to send a message by donating to his campaign for agriculture commissioner.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has also weighed in on the issue in 2014, calling on negotiators to protect the crop, which some say has been singled out because of health concerns. Quarles joined in that call saying Kentucky tobacco farmers have become dependent on exports.

Kentucky ranks second in the nation for tobacco production according to a 2014 USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service report. The crop represents a total worth of $448,132,000.

Quarles says that more than 80 percent of the tobacco grown in the state is exported.

Quarles faces Democratic candidate Jean Marie Lawson Spann in the Nov. 3 election.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.