ARLINGTON, Virginia – The U.S. wheat industry applauds bipartisan support for the introduction of legislation to modernize and renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 includes improvements to the 2002 TPA law that are key to establishing the groundwork for progressive trade negotiations and outcomes for U.S. farmers and businesses.
“Trade is vital to the U.S. wheat industry, with 50 percent 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 TPA legislation outlines U.S. trade policy objectives and sets out conditions for the President to negotiate free trade agreements and other trade liberalizing initiatives as well as allowing for expedited Congressional consideration. Also known as “fast track,” TPA builds confidence with our negotiating partners that once an agreement is reached, Congress cannot change it. The bill also institutionalizes consultation requirements to ensure that Congress and the President maintain a strong partnership in advancing trade policy goals.
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.
“Comprehensive free trade agreements create a more fair and level playing field, and U.S. wheat farmers need the leverage that TPA would give U.S. negotiators to have a unified voice in a growing international market,” said USW Chairman, Roy Motter. “Japan and other countries are less likely to put their best offer on the table for politically sensitive agricultural products like wheat unless they have the confidence provided by TPA.”
The United States is the world’s largest wheat exporter, offering customers around the globe a reliable, high-quality supply of six wheat classes. In the 2013/14 marketing year, ending May 31, 2014, the United States exported about 32 million metric tons (nearly 1.2 billion bushels) of wheat valued at about $9.7 billion, which supports thousands of jobs and creates economic benefits across the country. More on the industry’s trade work is at www.wheatworld.org/trade or www.uswheat.org/whatwedo/tradepolicy.
USW is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by FAS. USW maintains 17 offices strategically located around the world to help wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials understand the quality, value and reliability of all six classes of U.S. wheat.
NAWG is a federation of 22 state wheat grower associations that works to represent the needs and interests of wheat producers before Congress and federal agencies. Based in Washington, D.C., NAWG is grower-governed and grower-funded, and works in areas as diverse as federal farm policy, trade, environmental regulation, agricultural research and sustainability.
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