The American Soybean Association (ASA) is calling for all soybean producers to voice their support for passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), legislation that is critical to ensure the future profitability of U.S. soybean producers. With Congress scheduled to vote on December 6, growers are asked to immediately contact their Representative and Senators in Washington to make sure they know that U.S. agriculture depends on TPA.A toll-free number, 1-866-PASS-TPA (1-866-727-7872), has been established to help growers quickly communicate this important message. In less than two minutes, this fully automated service will generate personalized letters to the producer’s Representative and Senators in support of TPA.“Trade Promotion Authority is extremely important to U.S. soybean producers from the standpoint that one out of every two rows of soybeans grown in the United States is exported in the form of a whole soybean or a soybean product,” said ASA First Vice President Dwain Ford, a soybean and corn producer from Kinmundy, Illinois. “Exports are very essential to the future of U.S. soybean farmers.”Passage of Trade Promotion Authority is essential if U.S. soybean farmers are to remain competitive in the world market. TPA would strengthen the ability of the United States to negotiate positive trade agreements. It allows the Administration to negotiate trade agreements and then present them to Congress for an up-or-down vote. In the absence of TPA, other countries are refusing to negotiate final agreements with the United States because they would be subject to further change.Albert J. Ambrose, Chairman of the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA), said, “We haven’t had Trade Promotion Authority in effect for probably six or seven years, and it’s been 1994 since we struck our last trade deal. In the meantime, 133 other trade arrangements have been made around the world while we haven’t participated in any, and the reason is because other countries won’t negotiate in good faith with us unless they believe we have the authority to make trade deals.”World economic growth and increased soy export opportunities brought about by reduced trade barriers is important to soybean farmers. With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside our borders, growth in export demand must be part of our long-term strategy.Agriculture makes one of the largest contributions to the U.S. trade balance, and soybeans are the highest value farm export. Exports of soybeans, soybean meal, and soybean oil totaled more than $7 billion last year. U.S. soybean farmers are dependent on export demand for half of each year’s crop. With production increasing, TPA would increase access to foreign markets and help raise soybean prices-which are currently at 27-year lows.The soybean industry has benefited greatly from previous multilateral negotiations. Under the Uruguay Round Agreement, the Philippines will reduce its import tariff on soybean meal from 10 percent to 3 percent by 2004. This duty reduction has already caused a 40 percent increase in exports of U.S. soybean meal to the Philippines, reaching $160 million in 2000. In Korea, the tariff on soybean oil will be reduced by 14.5 percent by 2004. Soybean oil exports tripled to $32 million between 1995 and 2000.Without TPA, serious negotiations cannot even begin because other countries will not make final concessions if Congress is able to make further changes to agreements reached by the Administration. Meanwhile, tariff and non-tariff barriers that are stifling our chances of breaking into many new markets remain in place. TPA can protect the interests of U.S. farmers in the new Round, particularly from aggressive positions being pushed forward by our competitors in South America. If we want to offset and participate in regional and bilateral agreements, we need to have leverage at the World Trade Organization (WTO). TPA is the only way to put the U.S. on a level playing field.