Free Trade Agreements: Good for Ag Exports, Too

By July 8, 2007Trade

Do all the “progressive” political forces — Big Labor and their allies — who have no problem crippling U.S. manufacturing competitiveness by blocking free trade agreements feel the same way about farmers? Family farmers? Because expanding trade is critical to the U.S. agricultural sector, too. After all, America can’t eat it all.

An op-ed by Brian Sturtevant, a pork producer and president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association:

For U.S. pork producers, the economics of trade are simple: Exports currently add $33.60 to the price they receive for each pig. The South Korean and Latin American bilateral FTAs will collectively increase the value of exports to producers by an additional $12.60 per head, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. The trade agreements also would give U.S. pork producers easy access to those countries’ markets, while their competitors in Canada and the European Union would still face trade restrictions.

That trade agreements have benefited the pork industry is borne out by the tremendous increases in pork exports to countries with which the United States has pacts. Since the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1989, for example, U.S. pork exports to Canada have increased by $421 million, and since implementation in 1994 of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, pork exports to that country have increased by $446 million.

To help sustain the jobs and other economic activity created by the Illinois pork industry, particularly in the face of rising feed costs – the result of the rapid rise in corn-based ethanol production – the state’s pork producers need more markets in which to sell their products.

So, stick it to the manufacturers*, if you must, those five million workers whose jobs are directly related to exporting manufactured goods, jobs that pay nearly 20 percent more than the average national wage. But for pity’s sake, all you trade opponents, don’t stick it to the farmer.

*Not really. Please don’t stick it to the manufacturers. Instead, read our statement on renewing Trade Promotion Authority.

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