More than 120 pork producers and nine swine veterinarians flew to Washington, DC, for two days last week to attend the National Pork Producers Council’s Legislative Action Conference and to lobby U.S. congressmen on issues of importance to U.S. pork producers.

Pork producers heard from Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who chairs the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee; Jim Miller, senior policy adviser for the Senate Budget Committee majority staff; Jose Luis Paz, head of Mexico’s Trade and North American Free Trade Agreement Office and representative of its secretary of the economy in Washington, DC; and Ambassador Ron Kirk with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Kirk praised the U.S. pork industry for ensuring that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement was finalized. “We couldn’t have gotten Korea done without you,” he said.

One of the highlights of the Washington fly-in was the well-attended “Rack of Pork” congressional reception held in the Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room.

The NPPC board of directors last week also met with Columbian Ambassador Gabriel Silva and other embassy staff to discuss negotiations for the U.S.-Columbia Free Trade Agreement, which NPPC supports and has for years pushed hard for passage.

Full implementation of the trade pact will generate $68.9 million in U.S. pork exports and create 919 direct pork industry jobs, while raising U.S. hog prices by $1.15, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

NPPC is urging the Obama administration to forward implementing legislation for the Columbia, Panama and South Korea free trade agreements soon and urging Congress to approve them before its August recess.