USDA, food industry supports new Trade Promotion Authority legislationUSDA, along with food industry groups such as the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) voiced their support and urged a swift approval of new legislation, the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015,” that would modernize and renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), boost economic growth and open the door to new markets for US goods and services.

"US agriculture applauds the introduction of Trade Promotion Authority legislation today,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary. “We look for quick action by Congress to provide the president with the authority to pursue agreements that open markets for America's farmers, ranchers and agribusiness. Over 70 organizations representing America's farmers and ranchers support trade promotion authority because trade is vital for US agriculture.

According to Vilsack, agricultural exports totaled more than $150 billion last year and supported approximately one million US jobs.

Trade Promotion Authority was last enacted in 2002 and expired in 2007.

“With the US currently negotiating historic agreements in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, renewing TPA as soon as possible will help ensure these agreements enable American businesses and workers to compete on a level playing field in the global economy,” said Pamela Bailey, GMA president and CEO. “Ambitious trade agreements will help open the door to new markets for US exports, boost US economic growth, and support well-paying US jobs.”

The bill was introduced Thursday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

The benefits of the legislation to consumers, companies and employees would be far-reaching, especially since the United States is actively pursuing three significant trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).

According to IFDA, the new bill includes key negotiating objectives, such as the reduction or elimination of tariffs, robust rules on sanitary measures, and preventing the improper use of geographical indications.