WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The AG for Fast-Track Coalition is putting on a full court press urging Congress to pass fast-track legislation before the end of this legislative session. Fast-track authority is important for the coalition because the U.S. agriculture industry must have improved access to foreign markets for future growth and prosperity. The AG for Fast-Track Coalition is comprised of more than 60 U.S. agricultural groups and businesses, representing leading agriculture commodities and processed food products. "Members should stop and think about the impact on U.S. agriculture if this doesn't happen," said National Pork Producers Council CEO Al Tank. Agriculture is the most export-dependent segment of the U.S. economy, so it must continue to push for increased market access around the world. That's why the AG for Fast-Track Coalition has delivered a letter today to every member of Congress urging a "yes" vote on the renewal of fast-track trade negotiating authority. Last year, agricultural exports generated $140 billion in total economic activity throughout the U.S. This $140 billion in export-related economic activity supported almost one million American jobs. Agriculture is the single largest employer in the U.S. economy and the single largest contributor to a positive balance to trade, Tank said. "U.S. agriculture lives or dies by foreign trade. The U.S. can't afford to remain on the sidelines. We must have fast-track now," he added. The AG for Fast-Track Coalition is building on momentum that it gained last Wednesday on AG for Fast-Track Day. Nearly one hundred congressional visits were made by the coalition's grassroots urging Congress to give the president fast-track authority. In addition to the meetings on AG for Fast- Track Day, the ag coalition held a press conference where U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said that the U.S. would be shooting itself in the foot if Congress doesn't vote yes on fast-track. AG for Fast-Track Coalition As of October 28, 1997 Agricultural Retailers Association American Crop Protection Association American Farm Bureau Federation American Feed Industry Association American Frozen Food Institute American Horse Council American Meat Institute American Soybean Association Animal Health Institute Biotechnology Industry Organization Blue Diamond Growers Bunge Corporation Cargill, Inc. Cerestar USA Central Soya Company Inc. Chocolate Manufacturers Association Coalition for a Competitive Food and Agricultural System ConAgra, Inc. Continental Grain Company Corn Refiners Association, Inc. Distilled Spirits Council Farmland Industries, Inc. The Fertilizer Institute Food Distributors International General Mills, Inc. Grocery Manufacturers of America International Dairy Foods Association Louis Dreyfus Corporation Miller's National Federation National Association of Animal Breeders National Association of State Departments of Agriculture National Broiler Council National Cattleman's Beef Association National Confectioners Association National Corn Growers Association National Cotton Council National Council of Farmer Cooperatives National Food Processors Association National Dry Bean Council National Grange National Grain and Feed Association National Grain Sorghum Producers National Grain Trade Council National Milk Producers Federation National Pork Producers Council National Oilseed Processors Association National Sunflower Association National Turkey Federation Nestle USA, Inc. North American Export Grain Association Northwest Horticultural Council Pacific Northwest Grain and Feed Association Ralston Purina Company Snack Foods Association United Egg Association United Egg Producers U.S. Apple Association U.S. Beet Sugar Industry U.S. Dairy Export Council U.S. Feed Grains Council U.S. Meat Export Federation U.S. Wheat Associates, Inc. USA Poultry & Egg Export Council USA Rice Federation Total: 64 The Agriculture Coalition for Fast Track sent the following letter dated Oct. 28 to members of Congress: The continued growth and profitability of U.S. agriculture is dependent on the prompt passage of fast track. We urge you to vote "yes" for the renewal of fast-track trade negotiating authority. Last year, the U.S. agricultural trade surplus was $27.4 billion, making agriculture the largest positive contributor to the U.S. balance of trade. Approximately, one-third of annual production is exported, and agriculture employs more people than any other sector of the economy. Without fast track authority, the U.S. will not be an effective participant in future trade negotiations to open markets, to lower subsidies, to end state trading and to correct problems in current agreements. Presently, over 30 regional and bilateral trade agreements are in effect in the Western hemisphere with the U.S. only party to one, NAFTA. As our trading partners continue to execute these agreements, U.S. agricultural exporters are increasingly disadvantaged. The United States simply cannot afford to remain on the sidelines as the trade rules of the global economy are decided by Brussels, Tokyo, and Brasilia. Fast track is not new. Every president since Gerald Ford has had this authority. Fast track is not a blank check. It is only the authority to negotiate after consultation with the Congress. Congress also is given the opportunity to consult during negotiation and has the final authority to vote yes or no on any trade agreement. Approving fast track negotiating authority is right for agriculture and right for America. The Agriculture Coalition for Fast Track urges you to encourage House and Senate members to vote "yes" on fast track prior to adjournment. Failure to reach a decision on this important issue will have horrific implications for the U.S. agriculture and will weaken the leadership role of the U.S. in the world economy.
SOURCE Agriculture Coalition for Fast Track