October 19, 2011

New free-trade agreements could affect agriculture

By Madeline McCurry-Schmidt

Last Wednesday, President Obama and the U.S. Congress officially ratified free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Many politicians are hoping these pacts could help American businesses compete in areas like the automotive industry.

In the ag sector, many officials have praised the trade agreements.

“For too long, the trade agreements have been collecting dust,” said National Cattleman’s Beef Association President Bill Donald in a press release.

The National Pork Producers Council estimated that without those three tariffs on pork exports, producers could earn up to $11 more for each hog exported. And the South Dakota State Secretary of Agriculture called the agreements “good things for agriculture.”

Meanwhile, some worry that importing subsidized U.S. goods could hurt smaller farms in countries like Colombia. In an Associated Press article, Frank Bajak writes that “many of the country’s small farmers fear for their livelihoods.”