AT A TIME when American farmers are able to market their crops at near record prices, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., says it's imperative that the Senate prevent the monthly tariff hike imposed by the European Union on U.S. farm goods.

The European Union has imposed tariffs on agricultural and manufactured goods from the United States based on a World Trade Organization ruling against the United States. These tariffs are scheduled to increase from 5 percent to 6 percent April 1, and then increase an additional 1 percent every month during the next year.

Cochran, who serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, says the European Union's month-by-month tariff retaliation can be prevented, if a vote is allowed on the Senate's JOBS Act.

Senate Bill 1637, which stands for Jumpstart our Business Strength, would replace the current foreign sales tax structure and bring the United States into compliance with the WTO's ruling. Because the JOBS Act received a strong bipartisan vote of 19 to 2 by the Senate Finance Committee, Cochran is urging his fellow senators to allow the bill to receive immediate Senate consideration, rather than continue to block its debate.

“The Senate's passage of the JOBS bill will avert these costly tariffs on American agriculture and manufacturing products,” says Cochran. “With a remedy at hand, why would we want to see American farmers punished when they are selling their products at a near-record level of almost $60 billion in world markets? When our farm exports are pressured, the truckers, rail lines and shippers feel the ill effects. I hope that senators will allow the immediate consideration of this bill.”

The bill eliminates the Foreign Sales Corporation/Extra Territorial Income corporate tax and replaces it with an effective 3 percent tax cut for manufacturing income to preserve and create manufacturing jobs in the United States. It also reforms international tax rules that Cochran says seriously undermine America's ability to compete in the global marketplace. The Senate Finance Committee passed the bill on Oct. 1, 2003.