D.C., March 28, 2007 – President Bush told cattle producers that Congress needs to pass a number of pending trade deals and reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), so America's food producers and agriculture sector can better compete in a growing global marketplace.
“Every time we break down a barrier to trade, someone who's raising a cow will have an opportunity to sell that cow into a better market,” said President Bush. “My attitude on trade is ‘you treat us the way we treat you – and then let's compete.'”
Members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) were treated to a visit by the President as part of NCBA's Annual Spring Legislative Conference, in Washington, D.C.
“President Bush understands the importance of rural America – especially the cattle and beef industries – to our nation's economy and to our country's way of life,” said NCBA President and North Carolina cattleman John Queen. “He has long supported policies that help rural communities and small businesses to prosper, such as tax relief and personal property rights. And he has fostered an aggressive trade agenda aimed at opening markets worldwide for our products.”
The President's trade agenda was top of mind in his remarks. The Peru, Panama, and Colombia Free Trade Agreements, widely viewed as the best ever negotiated on behalf of U.S. agriculture, still need to be approved by Congress. And the fate of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, the biggest bilateral trade agreement since NAFTA, hangs in the balance as negotiators conclude discussions this week in Seoul. The Korean deal must be completed by March 31st to give Congress a mandatory 90-day time period for review before TPA expires on June 30, 2007, unless renewed by Congress.
“I want to thank the National Cattlemen's Beef Association for joining with the Administration and other organizations in urging the Congress to renew Trade Promotion Authority,” said Bush. “You can't negotiate a deal in fairness to the United States if you think it's going to be changed on the floor of Congress.”
The importance of trade is one of a handful of priority issues the cattleman are discussing this week. Each year, hundreds of NCBA's most politically active members come to Washington for a week of intensive one-on-one meetings with members of Congress and agency officials.
In addition to President Bush, NCBA conference speakers include U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, U.S. Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) Administrator James Link, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and National Security Council Director Allan Hubbard.