WASHINGTON – While the national unemployment rate holds at 9.7% — higher than the same time last year, it doesn’t make sense to let opportunities for new jobs pass by — but that is exactly what the administration is allowing to happen, charge Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, and Dave Camp (R-Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, in an op-ed appearing in the June 29 issue ofThe Hill newspaper.

The American Meat Institute (A.M.I.) points out that both legislators note while the administration has recently embarked on talks with Asia-Pacific trading partners to form a new agreement to reduce trade barriers in the region, it seems it has completely forgotten about the three free-trade agreements (F.T.A.s) already signed with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

“Each of these agreements provides significant new market access for America’s farmers and ranchers,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, we have just ‘celebrated’ the third anniversary of the signing of these agreements without congressional consideration, and each day that passes without the benefits of these agreements represents foregone income and lost jobs.”

A recent A.M.I. report on the potential economic impact of these agreements, which estimates that the implementation of the agreement with South Korea alone could increase U.S. meat exports by more than $2 billion, and implementing all three agreements could create nearly 30,000 jobs, is cited in the op-ed.

“Making a bad situation worse, many of our close competitors such as Canada and the European Union, are completing their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, giving their exporters advantages we are denying our own,” they complained. “Just last week, the Canadian legislature passed legislation to implement its agreement with Colombia. The E.U. has completed negotiations with South Korea and Colombia.

“As the A.M.I. study shows, these agreements offer significant, real and sustainable market access for our agricultural products. All of this could be good news for our economy — from rural producers, to manufacturing workers and truckers, to port workers and shippers “they continued. “But for us to realize export growth and the additional jobs it would create, the administration must actively engage in finding a way forward to approve these agreements. Our farmers and ranchers cannot afford further delay,” the op-ed concludes.

To read the entire op-ed, visit http://bit.ly/dmbnuy. To read A.M.I.’s report on the potential revenue of the currently pending F.T.A.s, visit http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/60268.