The National Pork Producers Council Thursday announced its intention to score the vote on Trade Promotion Authority in the U.S. House of Representatives as a "key vote."
"Periodically, NPPC will score members of Congress on their votes on issues and legislation that are of paramount importance to the livelihoods of America's pork producers. These scores then will be made public so voters have this information when determining the candidate of their choice in the next election."
TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress may review it and vote yes or no, without amendments.
The key reason TPA is needed, Prestage said, is for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries.
"U.S. trade negotiators will have the final leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations when Congress passes TPA," said Prestage. "It will allow nations to cut to their bottom line negotiating position in TPP."
Since 1989, pork exports have increased 1,550% in value and 1,268% in volume. The U.S. shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to international destinations in 2014, and the industry exports more pork to the 20 countries with which the United States has free trade agreements than to the rest of the nations combined.
Prestage said that "each and every one of the free trade agreements that got us that tremendous growth in exports were made possible by the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority bills. That is why NPPC and virtually every other agricultural organization in the United States are in favor of Congress expeditiously moving TPA legislation."
Failure to pass TPA, noted Prestage, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allowing other countries to write the rules for international trade.
"The U.S. pork industry, U.S. agriculture, indeed the entire U.S. economy needs TPA, and we need it soon," said Prestage. "And if House lawmakers vote against TPA, we'll hold them accountable."