The agriculture community is focusing on the three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that have been pending for over four years. Passage of these three agreements is important to agriculture in general, and according to National Corn Growers Association Director of Public Policy Sarah Gallo, the nation's corn producers in particular.
"The United States is the largest corn producer and exporter in the world," Gallo said. "So all of these pending trade agreements represent really important export opportunities for our growers."
While the United States has not taken action on these agreements for several years, other nations have struck up their own agreements and that's been frustrating our nation's corn producers who see their corn export markets dwindling. But, according to Gallo, indications from Capitol Hill are positive.
"I think right now what you're seeing is more of a bipartisan support for a lot of the free trade agreements and we're encouraged by that," Gallo said. "That's why NCGA has been such a steadfast advocate for getting all three of these FTAs passed as soon as possible."
Gallo says the Korea FTA is important because of its potential.
"Korea is actually the United State's third largest corn market and potentially a great market for distillers grain, a byproduct of ethanol production," Gallo said. "So when the Korea free trade agreement is passed the imports of corn for feed as well as distillers grain are going to enter Korea duty free."
Gallo emphasizes that the Colombia FTA is important to corn growers if they are to regain market share. And by approving the Panama FTA, U.S. corn would then enter one of the fastest growing economies duty free.
"If you look at it in a bigger picture you realize that we have a tremendous trade surplus in this country so agriculture is sort of a different sector than some of the other areas of our economy that don't have that surplus," Gallo said. "So these export opportunities that we get through free trade agreements help us grow the rural economy, which in turn is great for all consumers."
Gallo says the U.S. corn industry remains committed to meeting the demands of all sectors of the economy, including all of our customers here and abroad.