Heroes of the Dinner Table

By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

Nebraska feeds the world. Our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers generate products that are used and consumed nearly everywhere from restaurants in Los Angeles and New York City to dinner tables in South America, Europe, and Asia.

Free trade is important to Nebraska. Countless parts of our economy rely on the free flow of goods across our nation and around the world. Nebraska is leading the way. In 2013 alone, Nebraska exported $7.3 billion in products tied to the agriculture and processing industries. By trading internationally, we are creating jobs and long-term income stability here at home. International trade, including exports and imports, supports over 280,000 Nebraska jobs. That means more than one in five Nebraska jobs are impacted by trade.

The financial gains from trading internationally are very real. For example, in 2014, international trade of cattle added approximately $350 per head for U.S. producers. Additionally, soybeans, our states top agricultural export in 2013, resulted in $1.6 billion for Nebraska and the economy. That kind of surplus has a lasting impact on Nebraskas farm families. It is real income that could mean the difference between sending your kids to college, covering your electric bill, or taking a family vacation.

As you read this, the worlds population continues to grow. In more and more countries worldwide, there is a growing middle class with an expanding appetite. And what do they want to eat? High-quality meat, produce, and food products from American farmers. Nebraskans have a tremendous opportunity to capture these new markets and reach more consumers worldwide. The best avenues to open our markets, increase productivity, and create jobs are through strong and comprehensive free-trade agreements.

But new markets cannot develop unless our country is at the negotiating table ensuring our job creators receive a fair deal. Thats why I was pleased to support the bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that passed the Senate last month.

TPA is a vital trade tool that effectively combines Congresss authority to regulate foreign commerce alongside the presidents authority to negotiate treaties. It reinforces the role of Congress to set our negotiation priorities and requires the president to consult extensively with legislators throughout the entire negotiation process. This longstanding partnership between the legislative and executive branches of government is essential to finalizing any free-trade agreement. America is ready to take the lead with these ambitious, pro-growth deals.

Furthermore, TPA ensures that the unsung heroes of the American dinner table including Nebraskas farmers, ranchers, food processors, and their families will be able to market their products to the world. Our farmers and ranchers are the very best at generating safe, high-quality products. It is imperative that global markets remain open, inclusive, and fair so that a level playing field is ensured for Americas producers.

TPA will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. Through this important legislation, we can break down barriers, boost our economy, and create greater opportunities across Nebraska and our nation.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process.

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