The Senate passed a motion by a vote of 65 to 33 on Thursday to move forward with debate on trade promotion authority. The Senate also voted to pass the trade preference bill by a vote of 97 to 1 and the customs bill by a vote of 78 to 20.
American Soybean Association First Vice President Richard Wilkins says trade is critically important to U.S. soybean farmers and trade promotion authority is a top priority. Wilkins says the U.S. can’t conclude agreements expeditiously without TPA. He says TPA gives the U.S. Trade Representative the ability to get the best deal possible for American farmers while providing Congress the oversight it needs to ensure trade agreements work for everyone.
Last year America’s farmers and ranchers exported more than $152 billion in farm goods, but that growth is at risk according to the American Farm Bureau. National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling issued the following statement: “American farmers are stepping up to meet the growing demand for our products abroad. Now we’re asking Congress to step up and pass Trade Promotion Authority as quickly as possible.” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger addressed the urgent need for trade promotion authority at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, “For America’s farmers and ranchers to see continued export growth, we must pen deals that knock down trade barriers.” Wenger added the U.S. has not completed a new trade agreement since 2011.
Farmers and ranchers need TPA now to complete important trade negotiations and open new markets around the world. Congress and the administration must work together to shape and set priorities based on actual business conditions. With TPA, Congress provides valuable oversight to the trade agreement process while the administration represents our priorities before other countries. “Farm exports have a real impact across the country. They create demand for our crops, fruits and vegetables, meat and other products, which in turn helps sustain millions of American jobs,” Wenger said. “If we expect to grow agricultural trade, we must plant the seeds today.”