FARMERS FEDERATION PRAISES PASSAGE OF FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby today praised Congress for passing free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which the Obama administration says could boost exports by $13 billion a year.
"We appreciate Congress ratifying these trade agreements, which will open up markets for U.S. agricultural products and create jobs for American workers," Newby said. "During the last four years, South Korea, Panama and Colombia have opened their doors to our competitors while America continued to pay high tariffs on products exported to these countries. These agreements will allow our farmers to fairly market their products and expand agricultural exports."
Commissioner John McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is optimistic about the changes Alabama farmers will witness with the free trade agreements' passage.
"Alabama farmers and agribusinesses have looked forward to this day when the products and commodities they produce will be able to compete on a level playing field where our quality and reliability will win out," said McMillan. "We offer our sincere thanks to everyone who helped to make these agreements a reality."
The American Farm Bureau Federation, of which the Alabama Farmers Federation is a member, estimates the three trade agreements represent almost $2.5 billion in new agricultural exports. Since every $1 billion in farm exports supports almost 9,000 U.S. jobs, the deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea could create nearly 22,500 new ag-related jobs.
The House of Representatives voted 278-151 for the South Korea agreement, 300-129 for Panama and 262-167 for Colombia. The Senate votes were 83-15 for South Korea, 77-22 for Panama and 66-33 for Colombia.
The agreements have been sent to the president for his signature.