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Food and ag groups urge Congress to pass UNITED Act

Food and ag groups urge Congress to pass UNITED Act

The bill grants the president the power to seek a trade agreement with the United Kingdom

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Members of the food and ag sectors are asking Congress to pass a bill designed to support trade opportunities.

Almost 50 representatives from the two industries, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association (CRA) and North American Meat Institute, wrote to Congress to ask lawmakers to support the Undertaking Negotiations on Investment and Trade for Economic Dynamism (UNITED) Act.

The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and Representatives Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in March, provides the president with the authority to enter into a comprehensive trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

“As organizations representing America’s agriculture industry, we further believe this legislation would bring economic opportunities to American farmers, ranchers, and food producers,” the June 7 letter says.

The bill has been read twice in the senate and referred to the finance committee.

The U.S. exported $1.7 billion of agricultural products to the U.K. in 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says.

This includes $263 million of wine & beer, $100 million of soybeans and $77 million of fresh vegetables.

But the U.S. needs to do more to support ag trade and trade overall.

Between 2010 and 2022, the U.S. has activated four free trade agreements, a report from the CRA says. China has entered into 12 agreements during that time, and Canada has nine.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. has fallen into an observer role when it comes to trade agreements allowing our trade rivals to define the path of global trade rules, standards, and practices,” the CRA said.

That’s why Congress needs to act to pass the UNITED Act, the groups said.

“Overall, we find that agricultural stakeholders, rural communities, and the American people at large would benefit from enactment of the UNITED Act and use of the authority it would provide,” the June 7 letter reads.

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