- The Senate voted 60-38 to pass the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, which the House passed last week, and the bill is now on its way to receive the president's approval. The bill puts trade deals on a "fast track" through Congress in which legislators are only allowed an up-or-down vote rather than the opportunity to amend the deal.
- Critics of the bill, which included many Democrats in both chambers of Congress, argued that "TPP will lower wages and send American jobs overseas, and that TPA means Congress can’t prevent that without voting against the entire deal," according to Food Safety News. Critics also say it could have other unintended consequences in areas like finance, energy, and food safety.
- According to some food safety advocates, TPP could encourage the "harmonization" of food processing standards in different countries, which means they would be seen as having the same standards despite one country in actuality having lower standards than another. This could potentially lead to inconsistency of safety measures taken for food traveling from country to country, which is of particular concern to the U.S.
"The Obama administration and many business organisations say the legislation is necessary so that trade negotiators can win lower trade barriers for US-made goods on international markets," the BBC reported. Passing the TPA will mean the U.S. is one step closer to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, according to supporters, wherein the U.S. will have wider access to international trade deals with 11 other nations in the Pacific region.
According to USDA, TPP is crucial for the U.S., as the country would secure an agreement with "a critical region that accounts for 40 percent of the world economy." Opening up 40% of the world economy could be a boon for the food industry as companies look to expand their products and operations to foreign markets.
The International Dairy Association was one food industry group vocally pleased with the passage of the bill. "The US dairy industry will continue to grow and prosper with increased trade opportunities, and TPA is critical to ensuring that US dairy companies receive the best deal in future trade agreements," said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA.
The National Chicken Council came out with its own comments in support of the bill's passage through Congress. "Our negotiators now have better tools to speak as a unified voice and to make sure the interests of U.S. chicken producers are on the table and considered in any trade package moving forward. TPA will ensure foreign access for US chicken, generate more farm income, jobs in rural districts, and improve the US trade balance," NCC president Mike Brown said.