The National Pork Producers Council this week urged participants assembled at the 2008 Corn and Pork Trade Symposium in Indianapolis to ask Congress to vote in favor of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The National Corn Growers Association also joined in the request.

“The trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama have been skillfully negotiated on behalf of U.S. agriculture,” the groups said in a letter they asked conference attendees to send to their members of Congress. “The trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama will cut tariffs and barriers to trade that currently restrict products from ever entering these countries.”

David Hardin, Indiana Pork Producers Association past president, said the Colombia agreement provides the United States with preferential access to the Colombian market. “The Colombia free trade agreement provides new market access to U.S. pork producers and will add $1.63 per market animal,” he said. “We are pleased that Colombia has agreed to accept pork from all U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected processing facilities.”

NCGA President Ron Litterer noted that trade agreements—particularly with Colombia—will provide access for the country’s grain, pork, poultry, and dairy needs. Litterer said trade with Colombia will improve the standard of living for both trading partners.

“The free trade agreements go a long way in supporting rural agriculture,” Litterer said. “With Colombia’s current tariff for corn at 68 percent, the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will have immediate duty free access to the country’s market for 2.1 million metric tons of corn.”