The National Pork Producers Council is urging the House to move quickly to approve Trade Promotion Authority legislation after the Senate passed it Friday night.

TPA 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 yes or no – without amendments – 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.

“We applaud the Senate 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 House to pass it so that one of the most significant regional trade deals ever can be concluded.”

Prestage referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. Negotiations on the TPP, which Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimates would generate more than 10,000 U.S. agricultural jobs, are in their final stages.

“U.S. trade negotiators will have the leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations once TPA is approved,” he said. “And 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.

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 now,” Prestage said. “NPPC urges the House to move quickly to pass it.”