Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall has sent a letter to Georgia's Congressional delegation on urging them to oppose a "dear colleague" letter from Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.).
Sanchez' letter asked United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and members of the House to remove tobacco leaf and tobacco products from negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, exposing U.S. tobacco exports to tariffs imposed by countries participating in the TPP.
Sanchez used the Doggett Amendment as the basis for her argument. The Doggett Amendment prohibits federal funding for promotional activities for tobacco.
Under the terms outlined in the amendment, inclusion of tobacco in comprehensive trade agreements does not meet the definition of promotional activities.
In his letter, Duvall pointed out that such a removal from a free trade agreement, called "carving out", would set a precedent by retreating from the U.S. position that trade agreements should include all commodities.
In a related action, the commissioners of agriculture in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia sent a letter to Kirk on asking him to continue supporting comprehensive trade agreements with no carveouts.
Both Duvall and the commissioners said that carving out tobacco from the TPP will do nothing to advance public health, since tobacco products would be available in many countries regardless of the terms of the free trade agreement.