The National Pork Producers Council, in congressional testimony, urged the Obama administration to send to Congress, and lawmakers to approve before August, legislation implementing the free trade agreement with Panama.
Testifying before the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee, NPPC President Doug Wolf, a producer from Lancaster, Wis., said the United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and allow other countries to take U.S. market shares in nations with which they are implementing their own trade deals.
“There is no standing still when it comes to trade,” Wolf said. “If we do not implement the trade agreements we have negotiated, such as the Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, and fail to move ahead with new ones, we will forfeit those sales to foreign competitors who are aggressively negotiating free trade deals of their own.”
According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Panama Trade Promotion Agreement would increase U.S. live hog prices by $0.20 per animal and create approximately 213 full-time positions in the pork industry.
Wolf also requested that the free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea be sent up and approved before Congress takes its month-long recess in August.
The FTA with Colombia, when fully implemented, would add $1.15 to the price producers receive for each hog marketed and would create 919 U.S. jobs, according to Hayes. The deal with Korea would add $10 per hog and create more than 9,100 pork industry jobs.
“At this time of very tight budgets, America’s pork producers are not asking for U.S. tax dollars,” Wolf said. “What we are asking is that our government take actions necessary to keep us competitive in global markets so that we can retain and expand those markets and, in turn, can keep creating new U.S. jobs.”