With today’s passage by the House of legislation granting the president authority to enter and finalize free trade agreements, the National Pork Producers Council called on the Senate to take up and pass the measure.

House lawmakers voted 218-208 to approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which defines objectives and priorities for trade agreements the United States negotiates and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote – without amendments – yes or no on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

It was the second time in a week that the House passed TPA. The lower chamber last Friday voted 219-211 to approve TPA as part of a package of trade measures, but it defeated a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill, thus preventing TPA from moving forward. This time, TPA and TAA were considered as stand-alone bills. While the Senate passed a TPA-TAA package May 23, it, too, now must take up separate bills.

“We applaud the House for approving TPA, which is imperative for finalizing free trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “Now we need the Senate to approve it, so that U.S. trade negotiators can get the best trade deals possible from other countries.

“Of course, our immediate objective is to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation, which would be the most significant regional trade agreements ever.”

A good TPP agreement, which includes the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries, would result in exponential growth in U.S. pork exports and generate 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to those exports, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

“U.S. trade negotiators now have the leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations,” Prestage said. “The U.S. pork industry needs TPP to continue growing our exports.”

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – U.S. pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry ships more pork to the 20 nations with which the United States has Free Trade Agreements than to the rest of the world combined.