May 22, 2015

Trade Promotion Authority Passes Major Senate Hurdle

mitch-mcconnell-floor-speech-conTwelve Democrats joined 50 Republicans to end a Senate filibuster of President Obama’s top domestic priority – trade promotion authority. The vote greased the skids for final Senate passage of TPA – needed to secure a Trans Pacific trade deal among the U.S. and 11 Pacific nations – which could dramatically boost U.S. farm exports to Asia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the Senate floor…


Finance Chair Orrin Hatch crafted the TPA bill and stressed the importance of the latest vote as debate wound down on TPA…


The Democrats’ filibuster was broken by a deal to vote on a measure to renew the controversial export import bank. Top Finance Democrat Ron Wyden…


Thursday’s vote was seen giving TPA supporters the votes needed for final Senate passage of fast track – a huge win for major farm groups. An even tougher battle still looms in the U.S. House.


CommonGround North Dakota Aims To Connect Consumers With Their Food

From left to right, top row: Joey Tigges, Durbin, ND; Annie White Carlson, Mercer, ND; Ronda Throener, Cogswell, ND; Front Row, left to right Julie Peterson, Harwood, ND; Vanessa Kummer, Colfax, ND

From left to right, top row: Joey Tigges, Durbin, ND; Annie White Carlson, Mercer, ND; Ronda Throener, Cogswell, ND; Front Row, left to right Julie Peterson, Harwood, ND; Vanessa Kummer, Colfax, ND


Conversations about farming and food.  That’s the motto of the CommonGround   group tasked with connecting consumers with the farmers who grow their food.  Their goal is to show that food comes from people, not factories and to educate consumers about production methods and practices.  Those efforts couldn’t have been more evident than it was Monday at the Women’s Health Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.  GMO’s, Corporate Farming, and Pollinator Health may all seem like unusual topics for such an event, but they took center stage at the Clarity in Food Choices panel put on by CommonGround ND.




The panel consisted of five women of varying agricultural backgrounds from across the state, all of whom were more than willing to discuss their respective industries.  Commonground  Volunteer and panel member Vanessa Kummer, a farmer from Colfax, ND:

Kummer 1

The North Dakota group is a member of a larger, national movement:

Kummer 2

As part of CommonGround ND efforts to connect consumers with their food, the group has created its signature event, banquet in a field.  Last year’s event was hosted by Peterson Farm Seeds.  Commonground volunteer Vanessa Kummer:

Kummer 3

Anyone interested in learning more about where their food comes from, or anyone interested in volunteering their time to help educate consumers on their farming methods, can visit  If you’re looking for your state specific group, click on the Your Community tab.


U.S. Senate Agrees On Path To Fast Track Trade Vote

Members of the U.S. Senate have agreed on a path to avoid further filibusters and vote on a fast track trade bill.  The agreement comes just one day after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blocked a vote on the proposed bill and Republicans could not gather the 60 votes necessary to move on.

The deal means Senate Democrats will drop their demands to combine Trade Promotion Authority with Trade Adjustment Assistance and trade enforcement provisions along with a measure that would ensure duty free trade with some developing countries.  The vote on Trade Adjustment assistance will take place prior to the final vote on TPA.  Republicans previously had argued that Democrats were trying to force a “poison pill” of sorts by trying to put a currency manipulation provision in the trade enforcement bill thereby endangering passage of the entire works.

In the end, trade promotion authority is now expected to pass the Senate, although TPA as a whole is expected to face some obstacles once it gets to the House.

Votes on each individual bill are set to occur in the Senate starting at noon on Thursday, no firm vote schedule is set up in the House at this time.

The Trade Promotion Authority situation has attracted much interest in political circles as it has put the President in the unusual situation of being at odds with some of his largest supporters and also forced Republicans into defending a President they’ve struggled to agree with.