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RMFU urges rejection of trade negotiating bill

DENVER — Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is urging the U.S. Senate to reject the “Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002,” previously approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

The trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation is essentially what has previously been called presidential fast track authority. It enables Congress to vote for or against trade pacts but does not give it authority to make amendments. The legislation will be debated in the U.S. Senate at any time.

“RMFU supports sensible trade but opposes trade at all costs. We believe Congress has the responsibility to debate and amend any trade agreement into which we, as a nation, enter,” said RMFU president John Stencel.

“Successful trade negotiations can and have been made without granting this authority to our president.”

In addition, RMFU says the legislation inadequately addresses U.S. trade objectives, domestic economic growth and fair trading relationships with other nations.

“International trade agreements should be structured to benefit U.S. agricultural producers and laborers. Unfortunately, many of our current provisions simply make it easier for multinational corporations to avoid compliance with labor and environmental laws by pitting American producers and workers against those from third-world countries,” Stencel said.

RMFU also maintains that TPA fails to address exchange rates and currency valuations, which can greatly impact trade.

“For three decades American farmers and ranchers have been told that increased export volumes will help improve their incomes, but farm incomes have continued to drop,” Stencel said. “We oppose rushing ahead into new trade agreements when current problems have yet to be addressed.”