U.S. pork producers are once again calling on Congress to move forward with three pending free-trade agreements that have been stalled for years. In the most recent effort, the National Pork Producers Council and 39 state pork associations sent a letter on to Republican and Democrat leaders in the Senate and House.

The groups asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as well as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to vote on FTAs with Colombia, Panama and South Korea “as soon as possible after receiving [from the White House] the enabling legislation.”

“Colombia, Panama and South Korea are crucial markets for U.S. agricultural products, and the industry stands to gain sales with implementation of the FTAs,” says NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “For the U.S. pork industry, the trade agreements with those countries will add significantly to producers’ bottom lines and create thousands of pork industry jobs.”

According to Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University economist, by full implementation, the three FTAs combined will generate more than $770 million in additional pork exports annually, causing live-hog prices to increase by $11.35 and creating more than 10,200 direct pork industry jobs. 

In the letter, NPPC and the state pork associations pointed out that “[i]f the United States fails to implement the three FTAs, these potential gains will become losses as we relinquish our export sales to countries that have implemented their own FTAs with Colombia, Panama and Korea.”

The United States already has lost sales in Colombia because of that country’s FTAs with other nations. The U.S. share of the Colombian agricultural market has fallen from 44 percent in 2007 to 27 percent in 2009. As for South Korea, Chile’s 2004 FTA has increased its market share in the Asian nation because of its tariff advantage over other major pork exporting countries. Chile’s import tariffs on pork going to South Korea will go to zero by 2014.

Source: NPPC