Pork producers will suffer without F.T.A.s

by Bryan Salvage
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DES MOINES, IOWA – If the U.S. fails to approve free-trade agreements (F.T.A.s) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, this would result in the U.S. pork industry being out of those markets within 10 years at a cost to producers of more than $11.50 per pig -- and it could cost the U.S. economy thousands of jobs, according to analyses released by the National Pork Producers Council (N.P.P.C.).

N.P.P.C. along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Corn Growers Association, criticized Congressional inaction on the pending trade deals at a press conference on March 3.

The analyses, which were conducted by Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University economist, take into account the trade agreements the three countries have concluded with other nations. Colombia and Panama recently finalized F.T.A.s with Canada, and South Korea is near completing a deal with the European Union.

“It is clear that without new trade agreements, the U.S. will be going backward by standing still,” said Don Butler, N.P.P.C. immediate past president. “Our industry can’t afford that; our country can’t afford that. For us to remain a successful and viable industry, we need new and expanded market access. And the way to get that is through free-trade agreements.”

In 2009, the U.S. pork industry shipped more than $4.3 billion of pork product exports, which added about $38 to the price producers received for each hog marketed.

Exports also create jobs, adding to the overall U.S. economy. For every 1% increase in the size of the U.S. pork industry, an expansion that would come through a rise in exports, 920 full-time pork industry jobs are created and nearly 4,600 jobs are generated throughout the economy, according to Mr. Hayes.

The U.S.-South Korea Free-Trade Agreement would add $10 to the price U.S. pork producers receive for each hog marketed and would create more than 3,600 pork industry and 18,000 total jobs. The F.T.A.s with Colombia and Panama would, respectively, add $1.15 and 20 cents to the price of each hog sold and generate 3,500 and 600 pork industry jobs, according to a separate analysis of the F.T.A.s conducted by Mr. Hayes.

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