AG Coalition Presses Congress to Pass Fast-Track Legislation

Oct 28, 1997, 00:00 ET from Agriculture Coalition for Fast Track

    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