Livestock groups urge TPA passage

NCBA, NPPC and NCC all separately release statements in support of Congressional passage of TPA.

Trade was one area of agreement between Republicans and Democrats following the State of the Union speech, and Monday key livestock groups have called on Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority.

In separate statements from the National Chicken Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. and National Pork Producers Council, each made a case for the need to provide the president with TPA, legislation that gives the President authority to negotiate trade agreements with an assurance that Congress will give the final agreement only an up or down vote.

As Ambassador Michael Froman told the U.S. Conference of Mayors the day after the address, "America has always been strongest when it speaks with one voice, and that's exactly what Trade Promotion Authority helps us do."

The livestock groups stated that Congressional approval of TPA is necessary to ensure a more successful outcome for the ongoing negotiations for Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

National Chicken Council president Mike Brown said, “It is necessary to have TPA enacted because it will be essentially impossible to gain Congressional trade pact approval otherwise.”

Negotiations on TPP, which includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, are drawing to a conclusion, with the latest round of talks beginning Monday. TPP countries account for roughly 40% of the world’s GDP.

Bob McCan, president of NCBA, said while the final terms of TPP are still far from conclusion, ‘TPP could give the United States a stronger foothold in the growing Asian and Pacific Rim markets.”

While TPA will empower U.S. trade officials to pursue and finalize a number of different trade negotiations, NPPC said TPP is paramount for U.S. pork producers. The benefits from TPP are expected to far exceed the benefits that have resulted from past trade deals and will represent, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, “the most important commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers.”

 “The U.S. pork industry is the poster child for expanded trade,” said NPPC President Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “As a result of trade agreements, our exports have increased 1550% in value and 1268% in volume since 1989, the year the U.S. implemented the FTA with Canada and started opening international markets for value-added agriculture products. Pork producers and U.S. agriculture are dependent on export markets, so NPPC is going to fight tooth and nail to get TPA passed.”

NPPC sent a letter to every member of Congress, urging passage of legislation to renew TPA.

“Significant progress has been made with respect to Japan’s market access offer on pork thanks to the hard work of U.S. trade officials and the strong support of the U.S. Congress,” said NPPC’s Hill. “While NPPC is reserving judgment on a final TPP agreement, we believe it is imperative that Congress approve TPA as a signal to our trading partners that the U.S. is ready to finalize an agreement that expands U.S. trade and generates U.S. jobs.”

In regards to TPP, NCC’s Brown said the chicken industry hopes to see that the long-protected Canadian market is finally opened to trade.  "In our view, the Canadian market should have been opened to free trade as a result of NAFTA.  If TPP is truly a free trade agreement, then there should be free trade in poultry between the United States and Canada, not just one-way market access for Canada.

TPP, if successfully concluded for U.S. poultry, will expand U.S. chicken exports by at least $500 million annually and possibly more, if restrictive market access measures and sanitary/veterinary issues and other non-tariff trade barriers can be addressed.  If the EU drops its unscientific trade barriers on our chicken, T-TIP could benefit U.S. poultry exports by more than $600 million annually.

"Passage of TPA would help ensure these increases, generate more farm income, jobs in rural districts, and improve the U.S. trade balance," Brown concluded. 

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