Eight former secretaries of agriculture have added their support, along with an ad hoc coalition of U.S. companies and farm and food groups coordinated by the National Pork Producers Council, to passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).

In a letter to members of Congress, Bob Bergland, John Block, Mike Espy, Dan Glickman, Mike Johanns, John Knebel, Ed Schafer and Clayton Yeutter urged lawmakers to vote to approve the trade pact’s enabling legislation. “It is imperative that the KORUS FTA be implemented as soon as possible,” they said.

According to the National Pork Producers Council, the Korean market is now the fifth-largest for U.S. agricultural exports, valued at $3.9 billion in 2009.

An economic analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation projected the KORUS FTA would expand those exports in a wide range of commodities, producing $1.8 billion in additional sales, a 46% increase, and 14,000 jobs.

The former secretaries of agriculture pointed out American farmers can compete with anyone in the world provided they are given a “level playing field.” But they won’t have one in South Korea without the KORUS FTA. They pointed out that many other countries have completed or are negotiating trade agreements of their own with South Korea.

Currently, the United States accounts for 30% of Korea’s agricultural imports, but that is down from almost 45% in the mid-1990s.

To view the letter sent to members of Congress, click on the following link: http://nppc.org/uploadedfiles/Korea2-8-11FormerSecretariesofAgricultureLetter.pdf.