Yesterday, following days of obstruction, the US Senate backed by 65 votes to 33 the proposal to open debate on trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation, an action applauded yesterday by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA).
On Tuesday this week, Democrats blocked debate on TPA, but yesterday certain pro-trade Democrats joined with Republicans to advance the measure, which the Obama administration is firmly pushing.
TPA was last enacted in 2002 and expired in 2007.
It allows the US president to negotiate trade agreements, and the US Congress to set priorities and retain its authority to approve or disapprove those treaties through an up-or-down vote - proponents say that is an incentive for negotiating nations to put their best offer forward for any agreement.
But opponents of the bill - many Democrats as well as Republicans - said it is undemocratic as it cedes Congressional authority on trade deals to the White House.
Feed sector stresses importance of TPA with lawmakers
AFIA, which is part of the Trade Benefits America coalition, said its board of directors was on Capitol Hill this week, meeting with House and Senate members, explaining the importance of TPA to the feed industry.
The US is currently in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
"Pending trade pacts, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, provide incredible growth possibilities through direct feed and ingredient exports, as well as increased exports of US livestock, poultry and dairy products.
Without passage of TPA, US negotiators will continue to lack the ability and leverage needed when negotiating free trade agreements.
TPA sets congressional parameters and priorities for US trade negotiations, but assures the president a final trade agreement cannot be amended during congressional review and approval,” said Joel Newman, president and CEO of AFIA.
In 2014 alone, said the trade group, the US exported more than $10 billion worth of feed, feed ingredients and pet food.
Gina Tumbarello, AFIA manager of international trade, told us previously: “The future growth of the US feed industry lies in exports, whether it be directly, or indirectly through meat and dairy exports, and the feed industry needs the support of the administration to remove barriers to trade and enforce trade rules. The most opportunistic path for this is through free trade agreements such as TPP and TTIP with the EU."