Before Congress adjourned for its August recess, Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) introduced the Agriculture Trade Facilitation Act H.R. 2707 that would require the United States to seek more stringent sanitary/phytosanitary provisions (SPS) in the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement and other future free trade agreements.  Strengthened SPS requirements would minimize their usage as non-tariff trade barriers which has too often been the case.  When he introduced his bill, Congressman Nunes said, “SPS measures are increasingly being used as protectionist tools, nullifying the impact of tariff reductions and blocking market access to American farmers.  One very recent and notable example is with poultry exports to Russia….  The situation will only get worse as tariffs are further reduced.  The ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which are promising to deliver a 21st Century free trade agreement, present an opportunity for us to make significant progress in improving the international SPS regime.  It is absolutely imperative the United States work to secure the best possible SPS provisions.”

Under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, SPS measures must be science-based and applied only to the extent necessary and cannot be arbitrary or used to unjustifiably discriminate domestically or against trading partners.  The United States Trade Representative reported that SPS “trade barriers prevent U.S. producers from shipping hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods, hurting farms and small businesses.”  “The elimination and reduction of unwarranted SPS barriers to trade will increase U.S. agricultural exports and jobs.  Moreover, the improper use of SPS barriers can be reduced through achieving and implementing agreements that provide for enhanced harmonization, transparency, equivalency, improved regulatory practices, and more efficient and effective dispute settlement,” the Congressman added.

A broad coalition of over twenty agricultural organizations including the National Chicken Council, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, National Turkey Federation, and the California Poultry Federation are supporters of the bill.  Congressman Nunes is seeking additional supporters and cosponsors.