Passage and implementation of three free trade agreements (FTAs) languishing in Congress would add $2.3 billion in meat and poultry exports and potentially create 29,524 jobs, according to a white paper published Tuesday by the American Meat Institute (AMI).

“It is clear that the road to both robust job and economic growth lies in expanding America’s export markets,” says J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of AMI. The trade expansion pacts between the United States and South Korea, Panama and Columbia have been awaiting congressional approval for years, cutting into U.S. market share. “While the United States is waiting to enact these FTAs, our competitors are moving forward,” he adds.

The data suggests that enactment of the agreements could boost U.S. exports of beef by $1.4 billion, pork by $722 million and poultry by $102 million. This would result in the creation of 18,000 jobs in the beef industry, 10,300 jobs in the pork industry and 1,200 jobs in the poultry industry. Trade numbers are based on projections from the various commodity groups. Job creation calculations are based on employment multiplier projections from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and industry groups which show:

  • For every $1 billion in beef exports, 12,700 jobs are created.
  • For every $1 billion in pork exports, 13,333 jobs are created.
  • For every $1 billion in poultry exports, 11,853 jobs are created.

The value of meat and poultry and related product exports was $11.7 billion in 2009, up from $9.4 billion in 2007. USDA’s ERS predicts exports over the next decade to rise from 6.5 million tons to nearly 7.8 million tons. “However, if we are going to realize this potential, we need to pass these trade agreements and move forward on expanding our export markets as well as exploring new trade opportunities,” Boyle notes.

“With meat and poultry consumption rising in many nations around the world as a result of economic development and population growth, we have millions of increasingly affluent, potential customers,” Boyle says. “But if the United States is not there to fill their plates, other major exporting nations will.”