ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) said on May 16 that it strongly urges the U.S. Congress to pass the free trade agreements (FTA) with Panama, Korea and Colombia. Increasing export opportunities is a top priority for the U.S. feed industry and AFIA urges congressional action on all three FTAs as soon as possible. Ratifying the agreements will increase American competitiveness while removing barriers to U.S. goods entering these markets.

“AFIA applauds the efforts thus far, but we encourage passage of all three FTAs,” said Joel G. Newman, president and chief executive officer of AFIA. “While the country wrestles with a struggling economy, any trade agreement that has the potential to create American jobs and expand U.S. exports really makes sense.”

During the May 12 House Agriculture Committee oversight hearings, committee Chair Frank Lucas warned the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: “It is difficult to overstate the importance of these agreements to America’s farmers and ranchers and our economy as a whole. Our trading partners aren’t sitting around waiting for us to act,” citing a Korean-European Union (E.U.) trade pact set to begin July 1, and a new Panama-Canada FTA recently competed.

If the trade pacts are not implemented, the U.S. will lose market share to other countries who have their own FTAs, such as the E.U., Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. This will put U.S. food and agriculture products at a disadvantage with competing countries if Congress does not ratify the agreements. AFIA strongly urges approval of all three agreements at the earliest opportunity.

“International trade is increasingly important to the agriculture industry and the country will only remain competitive through additional agreements. This is the only way to expand market opportunities and ensure a level playing field within the international market,” Newman said.