This week, Congress will begin to take a look at important jobs legislation: new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and trade adjustment assistance to help train workers for the 21st century economy. These agreements will help create jobs and provide new income opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers, small businesses, and rural communities.
Today, farm exports help support more than 1 million American jobs. Passage of these three agreements will infuse the American economy with an additional $2.3 billion in farm exports, supporting 20,000 American jobs. In fact, our nation’s economic output is estimated to grow more under the Korea agreement alone than from our last nine trade agreements combined.
Congress should work swiftly to pass these trade deals. Colombia, Panama and South Korea have approved or are negotiating trade agreements with a host of other nations and already have access to our markets. Approving these deals will level the playing field for America’s farmers and ranchers by ending or reducing tariffs – allowing us to secure expanded markets ahead of our competitors.
Over the past two years, American agriculture has been a bright spot in the economy: shattering trade records and creating jobs. This year, agricultural trade is on track to reach a new high of $137 billion with a record surplus of $42 billion. And these trade deals will help build on that success story.
And USDA is involved in a host of other efforts to increase agricultural trade. President Obama’s National Export Initiative challenged U.S. businesses to double all exports by the end of 2014. To meet that goal, USDA is reaching out to producers and agribusinesses, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, with information about how to tackle the export market and financing to make it happen. Folks looking to learn about how to reach foreign markets can visit our website at fas.usda.gov.
President Obama and I know America needs an economy that makes, creates, innovates and exports. Passing these trade deals will mean higher incomes for producers, more opportunities for small businesses owners and jobs for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products.
If we’re going to get American working again, then these trade agreements are critical. We cannot afford to leave these jobs on the table. They’ll contribute to a thriving rural America – which is good for all of America.
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