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AFBF Advocates Passing FTAs at World Trade Month Event

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2011 – American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman today joined other agriculture leaders to mark World Trade Month and advocate passage of three outstanding trade agreements. At a press event on Capitol Hill, Stallman said that AFBF supports immediate passage of the Korea, Colombia and Panama free trade agreements.

“As the months and years pass by, U.S. agriculture is missing a significant opportunity to export nearly $2.5 billion in additional products to Korea, Colombia and Panama after full implementation of the agreements,” said Stallman. “In the meantime, our competitors are moving in and staking claim to these markets.”

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According to AFBF, a proliferation of free trade agreements are being negotiated or are already negotiated that increase U.S. competitors’ export potential, putting U.S. agriculture at a disadvantage. For example, U.S. wine exports to Korea in 2008 totaled $167 million. But, as the Chilean market share rose from 2.4 percent to 21.7 percent in recent years, the U.S. market share fell from 17.1 percent to 9.8 percent.

In Colombia, the U.S. experienced nearly a 50 percent drop in agriculture exports between 2008 and 2010, as Argentina is slowly taking over U.S. market share due to completion of their trade agreement with Colombia.

“The debate is no longer simply about generating potential export gains but about how to prevent the loss of existing export markets,” said Stallman.

Passing the agreements would benefit the U.S. economy. The Agriculture Department estimates that for every billion dollars in exports, nearly 9,000 jobs are supported here in the United States.

“These trade agreements are not only important to the bottom line of America’s farmers and ranchers but the economic health of our rural communities and the overall U.S. economy,” said Stallman. “There are jobs beyond rural America at stake as well, from the processor and packer to the transportation worker and longshoreman.”

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org
Mace Thornton
(202) 406-3641
macet@fb.org