In a press conference last week on Capitol Hill, the National Pork Producers Council urged the Obama administration to send to Congress implementing legislation for and lawmakers to approve the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
NPPC joined with the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Corn Growers Association in calling for action on the FTAs.
“For us to remain a successful and viable industry,” said Doug Wolf, NPPC president and pork producer from Lancaster, Wis., “we need new and expanded market access. And the way to get that is through free trade agreements.”
For the U.S. pork industry, the deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea will add more than $11 to the price producers receive for each hog and would generate more than 10,000 jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.
Wolf also warned about the perils of not approving the trade agreements.
“We need to implement these FTAs now,” Wolf said, “because while these deals have languished for more than three years, our competitors have negotiated their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and the United States has lost market share in those countries.”
Iowa State’s Hayes has estimated that the U.S. pork industry would be out of all three markets in 10 years if the United States fails to implement the FTAs and Colombia, Panama and South Korea move forward on trade deals with other nations. The United States would lose thousands of jobs under such a scenario.
“Our industry can’t afford that; our country can’t afford that,” said Wolf.
Exports are vital to the U.S. pork industry, which last year shipped nearly $4.8 billion of pork, an amount that added about $56 to the price producers received for each hog marketed.
In a related matter, Wolf urged Congress to allow to go forward a U.S. Department of Transportation program that will allow Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States. Mexico has agreed to lift tariffs on $2.4 billion of U.S. goods, including pork, once the program is implemented.