WASHINGTON – Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) 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 before Congress adjourned for its August recess, according to the Aug. 5 edition of the National Chicken Council’s Washington Report.

Beefed-up SPS requirements would minimize their usage as non-tariff trade barriers, which has too often been the case, according to NCC.

“SPS measures are increasingly being used as protectionist tools, nullifying the impact of tariff reductions and blocking market access to American farmers,” Nunes said when he introduced his bill. “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 US work to secure the best possible SPS provisions.”

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, under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The US Trade Representative reported that SPS “trade barriers prevent US 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 US agricultural exports and jobs,” Nunes added. “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.”

A broad coalition of more than 20 agricultural organizations, including the National Chicken Council, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, National Turkey Federation and the California Poultry Federation, support the bill. Nunes is seeking additional supporters and cosponsors.