Vilsack Hypes Agricultural Exports

Earlier this week, the U.S. House took up discussion of free trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Columbia. These FTA’s were endorsed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as a crucial step in America’s economic recovery. Hyping American Agricultural exports, Vilsack predicted that agriculture would be the key to the U.S. economy. Citing a $27 billion increase in the value of American farm exports, Vilsack and the USDA predicted that the FTA’s in question would yield over $2 billion in sales and could help create almost 20,000 American jobs.

In addition to Secretary Vilsack, other major farm producers have come out in favor of the free trade agreements. The National Corn Growers Association, for example, praised the FTA’s citing not only their profitability, but their ability to impact agricultural production as a whole. FTA’s on corn, for example, would help corn farmers and members of the NGA, but would also be beneficial to the livestock and poultry industries, and would benefit customers as well as producers. Others warned that delaying implementation could hurt the economy and would represent a missed opportunity. The American Farm Bureau Federation released a statement claiming that inaction by the House and Senate is costing American farmers, citing gradual drops in export values since 2008.

Not all agricultural groups have come out in support of the FTA’s. The National Farmers Union has expressed misgivings at the proposed agreements, stating that they are likely to increase imports rather than exports. NFU President Roger Johnson testified before Congress that the FTA’s will only increase the United States’ trade deficit and could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer