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California agriculture awaits free-trade deals

California farmers have waited a very long time for the three free-trade deals set for House approval.

From McClatchy:

California farmers have waited a very long time for the three free-trade deals set for House approval Wednesday.

They have also weighed in, a lot.

Now, years of free-trade lobbying are about to pay off, as the House appears on the verge of approving deals to lower tariffs in South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Farmers, in particular, believe they're the big winners.

"Agriculture has been consistent and very clear in supporting these agreements," Barry Bedwell, president of the Fresno-based California Grape and Tree Fruit League, said Tuesday. "I think most of us involved in agriculture have been looking forward to getting them through."

Driving the point home, Bedwell's group joined 23 other California farm organizations in writing the state's 53 House members this week urging support of the trade agreements.

The farm groups' letter punctuated an extended campaign, not all of it public. Organizations from the California Farm Bureau Federation to the California Strawberry Commission, and California-based companies from Hewlett-Packard to Chevron, all retained lobbyists specifically to work on the trade deals, Senate lobbying records show.

For more, see: California farmers welcome free-trade deal

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