The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in a press conference Tuesday urged the Obama administration to send Congress implementing legislation in order for lawmakers to approve free trade agreements (FTAs) with Columbia, Panama and South Korea.

NPPC joined with the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Corn Growers Association in requesting action on the FTAs.

“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,” says NPPC President Doug Wolf, pork producer from Lancaster, WI.

Wolf warns about the impact of not approving the trade agreements. “We need to implement these FTAs now,” he 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.”

Iowa State University agricultural economist Dermot Hayes estimates the U.S. pork industry would be completely out of all three markets in 10 years if the United States fails to ratify the FTAs and the three nations proceed with trade deals with other nations. The United States stands to lose thousands of jobs under such a scenario.

“Our industry can’t afford that; our country can’t afford that,” Wolf says.

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.

In another trade matter, Wolf urged Congress to expedite a U.S. Department of Transportation program that will allow Mexican trucks to haul goods into the United States. Once that program is implemented, Mexico has agreed to remove tariffs on $2.4 billion of U.S. goods.

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