TFU: New "Fast Track" Proposal Falls Short

Waco, Tx. (Oct. 11, 2001) - The Texas Farmers Union (TFU) today joined the Texas Fair Trade Coalition and others in opposition to recently proposed legislation that would grant trade promotion authority (TPA) or "fast track" to the President. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., would prevent Congress from modifying important trade agreements that continue disadvantage U.S. farmers and ranchers in the global marketplace.

"Free trade proponents told us in the 1980s and 1990s to 'just trust us,' and agricultural producers will profit from free trade expansion," said TFU President Wes Sims. "The Thomas TPA legislation asks us once again, 'Just trust us.' Unfortunately, his bill contains much of the same objectives that have led to skyrocketing agricultural trade deficits, especially for many California-grown commodities."

Under previous trade initiatives established under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture and under the north American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), agricultural imports that compete with American products increased 240 percent while U.S. agricultural exports increased only 67 percent.

The Thomas bill fails to ensure that the most important trade issues facing agriculture are included in any negotiated trade agreement. The plan fails to:

--Account for currency valuations and exchange rates that make U.S. products more expensive and inhibit U.S. products' access to international markets.

--Adequately address and provide for enforcement of labor and environmental standards, ensuring that U.S. competitive ability will decline even further in the future.

"The tired old rhetoric of 'Just trust us' does not work anymore," said Sims. "This trust must be earned. We cannot afford the empty promises and the misleading information while farmers and ranchers in this country go out of business. We need ironclad commitments that the challenges faced by America's family farmers and ranchers in international markets will be addressed."

Producers in attendance that voiced their opposition to the T.P.A. bill were Billy Miller and daughter Casie Miller, Steve Denton, Max Hattyer, and Jay Naman all from the Waco area. Also, Noleen Sykora, Central Texas Labor Council, Jere Locke, Texas Fair Trade Coalition and Bruce Allen, Sierra Club, voiced strong opposition to the legislation.

Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556