Minnesota Farmer


Free trade agreements important to Minnesota agriculture
September 10, 2011, 8:40 am
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, food, Minnesota, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

Agriculture exports are critical to farmers and are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy. Free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama have been stalled for several years causing major trading opportunities to diminish.

Economic analysis, performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, estimates that annual direct U.S. agricultural exports to Korea, Colombia and Panama will increase by nearly $2.5 billion upon full implementation which will create approximately 22,000 U.S. jobs.

In total, the agreements are expected to increase direct exports from Minnesota by $99.1 million per year. The agreements will particularly increase trade for pork, beef, soybeans, corn, dairy, wheat and processed food and fish, resulting in nearly 900 additional jobs in Minnesota.

As a farmer, I realize the importance of gaining long-term access to a growing market. Soybeans are Minnesota’s second largest source of farm cash receipts, which totaled $2.6 billion in 2009. Minnesota’s direct exports of soybeans and products to Korea are estimated to increase $8.3 million per year. The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) will provide access to Korea’s 300,000-metric ton market for food-quality soybeans. Korea has agreed to immediately eliminate its 5 percent applied tariff on food-use soybeans.

Additionally, there are benefits from the increased export of meat products because of the indirect increasing export of corn and soybeans. Indirect exports of corn as a result of the KORUS FTA are estimated to be $17.6 million per year. Indirect exports of soybeans and products are estimated to by $6.6 million per year.

Each day that goes by without passing the agreements provides more opportunity for other countries to negotiate their own deals and less opportunity for job expansion in the U.S. As long as the administration and Congress fail to act on the pending trade deals, our role as a major trading partner diminishes, as well as opportunity for U.S. job creation. Farm Bureau urges the administration and Congress to expedite passage of these trade deals.

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