Following an announcement of a “mock” markup of three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, the National Pork Producers Council urged congressional lawmakers to approve the deals with Columbia, Panama and South Korea before Congress recesses in August.

“It is imperative that the agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea be approved before Congress takes its month-long break,” says Doug Wolf, NPPC president and a Lancaster, WI, pork producer. “U.S. pork producers need new and expanded market access to remain competitive in the global marketplace. And the way to get that is through free trade agreements.”

The three trade deals would add more than $11 to the price pork producers receive for each hog marketed and generate more than 10,000 jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

“We need to implement these FTAs now,” Wolf says, “because while these deals have languished for more than three years, our competitors have negotiated their own trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea, and the United States has lost market share in those countries.”

The European Union’s trade agreement with South Korea goes into effect July 1, and Columbia and Panana are nearing completion on deals with Canada.

Hayes says the U.S. pork industry would be out of all three markets in 10 years if the United States fails to implement the FTAs and Columbia, Panama and South Korea move ahead on trade deals with other nations.

Last year, the U.S. pork industry shipped nearly $4.8 billion of pork, which added about $56 to the price producers received for each hog marketed.