It appears that the long awaited votes on the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia will be taking place this Wednesday in both the Senate and the House. The American Soybean Association has issued an "Action Alert" to mobilize their members to contact their members of Congress to emphasize the importance of passing these trade deals. ASA President Alan Kempker, a farmer from Lafayette, Ind., talked about the reasons for this call to arms.
"Exports are extremely important to the American Soybean Association and soybean farmers," Kempker said. "$22 billion of soybeans, meal and oil are exported. The free trade agreements are going up to Capitol Hill and we've been encouraging the President to put these forward for a long time. It means a lot not only to the soybean farmers in this country with up to $3 billion of additional exports of soy, but also to the fruit guys, the vegetable guys and others."
Kemper says that they've issued the alert to their members in 31 states to contact their Representative and Senators to make sure that they pass these agreements. Kemper says he was pleased that the House Ways and Means Committee took up the trade deals so quickly and passed them and also that the Senate has scheduled a committee meeting Tuesday and a floor vote Wednesday on these agreements. He says he hopes everyone will get these passed and back to the President's desk so they can be implemented.
"The U.S. keeps getting left behind by Canada, Europe and others on these trade programs by them signing free trade agreements and us just sitting still on it," Kemper said. "It's a long time coming, we've worked hard with the embassies of Colombia and South Korea and Panama over the last six months to keep emphasis going forward."
Kemper says the lifting of tariffs on soybeans will help tremendously the soybean market, which in turn means jobs in rural America. He says the additional $3 billion in exports means about 24,000 jobs.
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