In a letter sent to President Obama this week, ASA joined a group of trade associations representing every sector and industry of the U.S. economy to express concerns about the president’s trade reorganization initiative that would move the Office of the United States Representative (USTR) into a new Department of Commerce.

"Congress and the business and agricultural communities have often noted the importance of having USTR as a separate entity within the Office of the President, so that it can act responsively to negotiate, implement and enforce U.S. trade objectives," stated the groups in the letter.

"For the U.S. agricultural and business communities, USTR has played a highly important role that has grown U.S. exports, eliminated foreign market barriers and improved the overall competitiveness of U.S. farm and manufactured goods and services in the international economy."

ASA also joined a coalition of agriculture groups in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, expressing its support for a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union (EU).

"Carried out properly," the coalition wrote, "such an agreement would indeed generate economic growth and create many thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic."

The letter also pointed out that EU regulatory measures often conflict with the interests of the U.S. and with World Trade Organization rules, including regulations on "genetically modified" crop approval and labels, which restrict U.S. product exports and place restrictions on production method.

"Of course, this would require that the EU be prepared to negotiate and implement the type of high-standard, 21st-century agreement that is central to the administration’s trade policy efforts," wrote the coalition. "Free trade deals negotiated by the EU with other countries certainly do not come close to meeting those standards."

Hear more from ASA President Steve Wellman on this week’s Soy Radio Newsline.