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Pork Producers Urge Congress to Pass Free Trade Agreements With Colombia, Panama & South Korea

DES MOINES — Congress needs to pass the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea now, said Sam Carney, an Adair pork producer and former president of the National Pork Producers Council.

"Trade is important to the U.S. pork industry," Carney said. "Last year, we exported nearly $4.8 billion of pork. That added $56 to each hog marketed. The United States is the number one exporter and lowest cost producer of pork, but for us to remain successful, we need new and expanded markets."

The FTAs with Colombia, Panama and South Korea offer an excellent opportunity to grow markets, Carney said as he and other NPPC officials met with the news media at last week's World Pork Expo.

"Together these agreements would add $11 to the price producers receive for their pigs and would generate 10,000 U.S. jobs," Carney said. "South Korea alone would add $10 to the price of a pig and create 9,000 jobs in the pork industry.''

Carney said that while these deals have languished for three years in Congress, other countries have negotiated their own agreements. A free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea takes effect July 1, and Canada recently completed free trade deals with Panama and Colombia.

Carney said Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes has said that the U.S. pork industry will be out of all three markets in 10 years if the United States fails to implement the FTAs, and Colombia, Panama and South Korea move forward on other trade deals.

Carney said NPPC has pushed hard in the last six weeks to lobby Congress to vote in favor of the FTAs.

"Hopefully, we'll it get it done before summer recess or right after," Carney said. "We're frustrated but hopeful."

Korean ambassador to the United States Han Duk-soo was the keynote speaker at the National Pork Producers Council Strategic Investment Program luncheon at World Pork Expo. He encouraged pork producers to pressure Congress to ratify the FTA with South Korea.

"This has been going on too long," said NPPC president Doug Wolf of Lancaster, Wis. "We feel that Congress will pass the FTAs. There's too much to be gained not to. The pork industry will see huge gains, and the overall U.S.. economy will see huge gains."

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