The National Pork Producers Council today urged Congress to pass free-trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and Korea. The trade agreements, currently being deliberated by Congress, would remove tariffs on pork and other agricultural exports to those countries. The Peru trade agreement is the first one of the four slated for a decision by Congress.

 The NPPC joined other United States agricultural groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association and National Cattleman’s Beef Association in calling on Congress to pass the free-trade agreements. NPPC supports all four free-trade agreements now pending approval. “The South Korea free-trade agreement alone will be the single most important trade agreement ever for the United States pork industry,” says Joy Phillippi, former NPPC president.

“These agreements cut tariffs and barriers to trade that currently restrain U.S. pork exports,” Phillippi adds. Current estimates place the value of additional pork exports possible from free-trade agreements with the four countries at $910 million. Phillippi estimates that the four free-trade agreements could create 12,000 jobs in the pork industry alone from increased pork exports. “Congress should approve the Peru free-trade agreement not only because it is good for pork producers but also United States agriculture and the economy.”

“Creating and maintaining these four markets for our products is necessary for the future health of American agriculture,” says Acting USDA Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner, summarizing pleas from the agricultural groups. “We have a tremendous opportunity to open markets for our agricultural goods with these pending free-trade agreements. These agreements open the door to a freer flow of goods to these regions.” Connor believes the four free-trade agreements can help “American farmers and ranchers have a level playing field that currently does not exist.”