Farmers press congress for aggressive trade agenda

AFBF Asks Ag Committees to Back Aggressive Trade Agenda
By American Farm Bureau Federation,

WASHINGTON, D.C,  – Combined, the Colombia, Panama and Korea free trade agreements represent almost $3 billion in increased U.S. agricultural exports. Congressional action to approve those agreements would help set an aggressive trade agenda that is important to the U.S. economy and the creation of American jobs, AFBF President Bob Stallman today told leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of both committees, Stallman said approving the trade agreements would be a great way to answer President Obama’s call in his State of the Union address for doubling U.S. exports over the next five years. Stallman, last week, sent a similar letter to members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

“About 25 percent of the total volume of U.S. farm production is exported, and many U.S. commodities have a much higher dependence on trade,” Stallman told the agriculture committee leaders. “The positive impact of exports will be diminished as long as the United States is not moving forward with an agricultural trade agenda. The drop in U.S. agricultural exports from 2008 to 2009 is estimated to have cost roughly 160,000 American jobs in the production, processing and transportation sectors.”

According to Stallman, major trade competitors of the United States are moving forward with their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, yet the U.S. “remains hindered in these markets due to congressional inaction.” He said competing nations also are negotiating other bilateral and regional agreements that are reducing U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness and market share around the world.

“By the end of 2010 there will be more than 600 bilateral and regional trade agreements worldwide with the U.S. engaged in fewer than 25,” Stallman said. “We hope that the president’s call for doubling exports in five years will result in a new emphasis on increasing U.S. market access through trade negotiations and speedy enactment of the pending trade agreements.”

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