California farm groups urge Congress to support trade agreements
» October 4, 2011 «
Encouraging Congress to "capitalize on America's competitive advantage in agricultural production by opening growing markets abroad," California agricultural organizations today urged the state's congressional delegation to approve free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. President Obama submitted the agreements to Congress on Monday.
In a letter signed by 24 organizations, the California agricultural groups said the trade agreements are "fundamentally about competition and jobs." Eliminating barriers that agricultural exporters face in the three markets would increase California farm exports by $239 million a year, the groups said, and "add much-needed jobs to the state's economy."
"California farm exports already support around 105,000 jobs—both on and off the farm," California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said. "Reducing barriers to exports of California farm goods will add more jobs to that total, at ports, warehouses, food processing plants and other places where people work to move crops from farms to their customers."
Under the agreements, the largest of the three markets, South Korea, would reduce or eliminate tariffs on California-grown farm goods including tree nuts, oranges, wine and grapes, beef and a variety of fruit and vegetable crops. Sales of beef, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli and other crops could move to Colombia and Panama more freely, under the separate trade agreements.
In their letter to the California congressional delegation, the farm organizations noted that other nations "are racing to complete their own trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama," which would place American farmers at a competitive disadvantage if the U.S. fails to ratify its own agreements.
California leads the nation in agricultural exports, with sales totaling $12.4 billion in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available. In encouraging members of Congress to support the trade agreements, the farm groups said they would "create significant economic opportunity for California farmers and ranchers."
The letter to California members of Congress was signed by the following organizations: Agricultural Council of California, Allied Grape Growers, American Pistachio Growers, Blue Diamond Growers, California Bean Shippers Association, California Association of Wheat Growers, California Cattlemen's Association, California Cherry Export Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grain and Feed Association, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, California League of Food Processors, California Pear Growers, California Poultry Federation, California Pork Producers Association, California Seed Association, California Table Grape Commission, California Walnut Commission, California Warehouse Association, California Wheat Commission, Sunkist Growers, Western Growers, Western United Dairymen and the Wine Institute.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of approximately 76,500 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6.3 million Farm Bureau members.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top