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Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686

MONTGOMERY Billions of new consumers in China could provide Alabama farmers with markets to help boost lagging commodity prices if normal trade relations are granted to the country.

The Alabama Farmers Federation Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution supporting China's accession into the World Trade Organization. Alfa Farmers President Jerry Newby has written letters to Alabama's congressional delegation urging them to vote in favor of China's accession. Newby called the trade agreement a "win-win situation" for agriculture.

"China has made one-way, market-opening concessions, while the U.S. simply maintains the market access that currently applies to China," Newby said. "This is the first trade agreement in a long time where American agriculture is the winner rather than the loser. Failure to grant China Permanent Normal Trade Relations would not stop China from joining the WTO. It would only keep American agricultural producers from enjoying China's 1.2 billion consumer market while foreign competition reaped the benefits of WTO membership."

As part of the bilateral WTO accession agreement, a vote is required by Congress in order to secure the access to China's markets for U.S. agricultural producers.

In the resolution adopted by the Farmers Federation Board of Directors, they urged Congress and other government officials to hold China to trade commitments it made on several import-sensitive commodities such as peanuts, fruits and vegetables that have been hurt by past trade agreements.

While the vote in Congress regarding China's accession into the WTO is expected to be close, House Ag Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) and Ranking Minority Member Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas) both favor the agreement.

"China makes all concessions in this deal, while the U.S. gives up absolutely no ground," Rep. Combest said. "As the vote nears for opening the American farmer's trade opportunities with China, the benefits to U.S. agriculture weigh all the more favorably."

Stenholm said China represents an agriculture market that is vital to the long-term success of America farmers and ranchers.

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