WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — With the Colombia-Canada Free Trade agreement coming into effect, the need for a similar U.S. agreement is more apparent, said U.S. Wheat Associates on Aug. 19.

Most Canadian industries now enjoy duty-free access to the growing Colombian market. In contrast, Colombian importers must still pay tariffs on most U.S. goods. For wheat, that tariff overcomes the natural advantage U.S. exporters otherwise have in providing quality wheat on a timely basis to Colombian customers.

The stakes are particularly high for U.S. farmers as roughly 50% of U.S. wheat and 25% of all U.S. agricultural production is exported, U.S. Wheat Associates said. In 2010-11, the U.S. exported more than 35 million tonnes of wheat — roughly 60% of last year’s production — to about 70 countries.

The U.S. wheat industry has worked hard to build a reputation as a reliable supplier. While American farms are largely family-run operations, they are businesses that understand the importance of trade to their customers, U.S. Wheat Associates said.

The U.S. wheat industry has a long history of promoting fair and open trade and looks forward to implementing pending and future trade agreements such as the nine-country TransPacific Partnership agreement to maintain its competitiveness in world markets.

U.S. wheat farmers will not give up on trade and once more call for the immediate ratification and implementation of the U.S.-Colombia FTA so U.S. producers and Colombian customers can benefit from bilateral trade conducted on a level playing field, U.S. Wheat Associates said.

For more on the Colombia agreement, visitwww.wheatworld.org/trade.