Most of Ag Welcomes Fast Track Bill
Commodity groups and the American Farm Bureau Federation welcomed the introduction Thursday of bills that support granting Trade Promotion Authority to the Obama Administration. The fast-track legislation, if passed, would speed debate on pending trade bills by preventing amendments and requiring an up or down vote.
“Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today introduced legislation that greatly benefits American agriculture and farm families across the nation. This bipartisan effort advances an important policy objective just as the administration is engaged in major trade talks such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” AFBF president Bob Stallman said in a press release.
“Trade is vital to the U.S. wheat industry, with 50% of the annual crop destined for export markets. U.S. farmers are eager to sell high quality wheat throughout the world, but artificial trade barriers often stand in their way,” said National Association of Wheat Growers president, Brett Blankenship. “Passage of TPA would send a strong signal that Congress and the Administration are united in their commitment to opening markets for the benefit of farmers and rural communities and creating jobs throughout this country.”
The Wheat Growers statement added: “Together NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) encourage the swift enactment of TPA as an essential tool for negotiating market-opening free trade agreements. The United States is currently engaged in negotiations to complete the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S. and European Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which will lower barriers to U.S. wheat exports in several key markets. These agreements will also help ensure that U.S. wheat producers have the same market access as other wheat exporters, including Canada and Australia.”
The American Soybean Association said, “Trade is a bipartisan issue that helps to build the American economy, while strengthening our position in the global marketplace. Nowhere is that role more evident than in agricultural trade. As producers of the nation's leading farm export, soybean farmers know that trade supports rural economies, and ties American producers to consumers around the world. That's a role we cherish, and one that will be significantly advanced by the legislation introduced today."
The bill is opposed by National Farmers Union, however.
“TPA is just the continuation of the same old thing, trade agreements that make huge promises of prosperity and jobs to the American public and deliver nothing but bigger deficits, exported jobs and lost domestic agricultural sales,” said NFU president Roger Johnson, whose organization has long opposed TPA.
Johnson noted that the U.S. trade deficit for last year totaled over $500 billion and these agreements will only add to that number, which is a net drag on our economy by a full 3%. “We favor a trade policy that prioritizes domestic food production and goods supply chains in lieu of policies that put family farmers and ranchers out of business and send some of our best jobs, and the dreams of America’s middle class, overseas,” he said.
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