WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015— In anticipation of a close House vote on Trade Promotion Authority, HR 1314, the U.S. Trade Representative is putting on a full court press to let undecided members know that the majority of American agriculture is firmly behind passage of one of President Obama’s key initiatives.
USTR today released a long list of TPA supporters, as well as letters from agricultural leaders in 13 states encouraging their congressional representatives, to vote in favor of TPA, which allows the president to negotiate a deal subject to only an up or down vote in Congress. The House could take up the TPA bill later this month. Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan said late last week that GOP leaders were “within striking distance” of having the votes to pass TPA. The Senate approved a TPA bill last month. TPA would help Obama wrap up a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement and complete a second deal with the European Union.
The USTR’s list includes endorsements from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as well as a joint letter of support from eight of his predecessors, going back to 1977.
Just this week, Vilsack said TPA would help with the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will provide “an opportunity for us to really make the case to the rest of the world why to buy American. And there is no question in my view that this is a multibillion dollar increase in opportunity for American agriculture, on top of record agriculture exports in the last six years.”
In their letter, the former agriculture secretaries noted that every president since Gerald Ford has been granted TPA.
“Thanks to opportunities created by trade agreements, U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2014 soared to a new record of $152.5 billion, propelling farm income also to new highs,” the letter states. “Exports support rural economies and the U.S. economy as a whole through agricultural processing, ancillary services and a host of related businesses. This was true when each of us served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and it is true now.”
The former secretaries who signed the letter are: Ed Schafer (2008–2009), Mike Johanns (2005–2007), Ann Veneman (2001–2005), Dan Glickman (1995–2001), Mike Espy (1993–1994), Clayton K. Yeutter (1989–1991), John R. Block (1981–1986), and Robert Bergland (1977–1981).
Additionally, USTR listed leaders of dozens of food and agriculture organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, who support TPA for Obama. In a letter earlier this year, these groups indicated that they support the introduction and enactment of TPA legislation “as quickly as possible.”
“The people we represent – American farmers, ranchers, food and agriculture companies, retailers and their workers – are heavily dependent on trade for their livelihoods,” they stated.
To see a full list of the agriculture organizations and leaders supporting TPA, click here.