Last week, the National Pork Producers Council led a delegation of pork producers on a trade mission to Colombia in support of a free-trade agreement with the South American country.
The Colombian National Congress already overwhelmingly approved the trade agreement, which is pending approval by the U.S. Congress, NPPC officials point out. When fully implemented, the deal will add $1.63 to the price that U.S. producers receive for each hog marketed, according to Iowa State University economists.
Some U.S. lawmakers have cited violence against labor unionists in Colombia as a reason to oppose the trade pact, but those concerns are exaggerated, said the five pork producers who went on last week's trip. The producers met with U.S. embassy officials in Bogota; Colombian Vice Minister of Agriculture Juan Salazar; Colombian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata; the Colombian Pork Producers Association; the country’s farm bureau organization; labor union representatives; and flower and coffee growers.
NPPC, which leads a coalition of agricultural organizations in support of the trade agreement, points out that more than 99 percent of Colombian food and agriculture products entering the United States currently do so duty-free under the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act. The imbalance of that relationship is the driving issue behind the Colombia FTA. "It would give the same treatment to U.S. goods," NPPC officials point out.