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Senate Passes Final Trade Legislation before Summer Recess

Washington, D.C. – Cattle producers scored a major victory late Thursday afternoon when the Senate passed by 64-34 a bill that included Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The conference report on H.R. 3009, the Andean Trade Preferences Act, also included Trade Adjustment Assistance and Generalized System of Preferences.

The bill will now move to the President’s desk for signature. He is expected to sign.

"This is an exciting day for cattle producers and for the future of international beef trade," said Chuck Lambert, chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). "We have worked many long hours for this outcome. Increased international trade is imperative in these market conditions. We made it our priority to educate members of Congress on the dire need for Trade Promotion Authority, and it looks like they have heard and understood our pleas."

NCBA members and staff have been very involved in the advancement of this legislation. It is the primary way to level the playing field around the world and successfully negotiate tariff reduction in Japan, Korea and other markets, reduce beef production subsidies and eliminate EU beef export subsidies, Lambert said.

"For the past eight years, we have not had the ability to advance our international trade capacity and U.S. beef trade surpluses have declined," said Lambert. "Today’s poor market conditions reflect this. There is a huge opportunity to increase demand for U.S. beef internationally, and as international demand for beef products rise, the prices paid to cattlemen will increase."

Since the lapse of TPA in 1994, the U.S. beef industry has been sidelined while other countries have brokered trade deals. While we have been delaying, other countries have been negotiating better access for their exports according to Bush Administration officials.

"As a cattle producer, I understand that this new legislation will not bring instant gratification, but an intelligent, promising long-term solution for our industry," according to Jim Peterson, chairman of the industry’s Joint International Markets Committee. "It’s easy to get caught up in just looking at imports and not looking at the total trade picture. Our members understand the value of international trade in this modern, global economy. The major outlet for expanding beef sales is the millions of emerging middle-class consumers abroad."

"NCBA thanks Congressional leadership and the Administration for a job well done," said Lambert. "We look forward to working with them as trade negotiations unfold."

The roll call vote will be available later today on the Senate’s Web page (#207) at http://www.senate.gov/legislative/vote1072/vote_menu.html.

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