Farm Bureau supports free trade agreements

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Published: October 14,2011

Tags: agriculture, exports, farmers, farms, food, foreign markets

JACKSON — The passage of three free trade agreements in Congress puts American and Mississippi farmers back at a competitive advantage, and allows open access to markets that have been at an economic disadvantage, according to the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.

Agriculture exports are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy, and especially to rural communities like Mississippi, the Federation says. Agricultural trade is not only critical to farmers and ranchers, it is important for the U.S. economy and the creation of American jobs. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 9,000 U.S. jobs including those of transportation workers, food processors, packers, longshoremen and even sales and marketing professionals.

“Mississippi family farms will benefit greatly from an open access to new markets for poultry, beef, rice and catfish, just to name a few,” said Donald Gant, a Bolivar County farmer. “Passage of this important piece of legislation will represent a bright spot during a year of weather-related disasters in our farming community.”

“The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation supports free and open trade with our world neighbors,” said Farm Bureau president Randy Knight. “These agreements will help all of Mississippi agriculture but especially our poultry industry which is our number one commodity.”

Currently, U.S. products going into Columbia, Panama and Korea face exorbitant tariffs just to get into these markets, the Federation reports. Yet, while U.S. producers pay tariffs of up to 160 percent to sell to the Colombia and Panama markets, those foreign producers receive duty-free access to the U.S. market for their goods. In Korea, tariffs of up to 500 percent are placed on U.S. goods. Passing these trade agreements immediately eliminates most of these tariffs.

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