U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Chairman Mark Jagels, a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer and custom cattle feeder from Davenport, Neb., comments on last week’s introduction of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act.

This legislation, introduced Jan. 9 in both the House and Senate, proposes to extend presidential Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for four years. Free trade agreements are still subject to Congressional approval under TPA, but on an up-or-down vote without amendments. TPA is a critical tool for U.S. negotiators, because it assures trading partners that an agreement will not be altered during the Congressional approval process. Jagels says extension of TPA is especially critical as U.S. negotiators attempt to complete their work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and continue to engage in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the European Union.

Jagels also urges Congress to take quick action on the farm bill, which encountered further delays last week. Both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill contain full funding for the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, which are important sources of funding for USMEF. While there is strong bipartisan support in both houses for MAP and FMD, funding for these programs cannot move forward without action on the bill as a whole.