Agriculture Exports Support 24,400 North Carolina Jobs

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By the time you read this, the U.S. national debt of more than $14.2 trillion has likely shattered the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. About 95 percent of the world’s population will still be living outside of the United States. And international trading opportunities with billions in potential income at stake are still being debated in Congress.

It has been estimated that three trade agreements, The Korea, Colombia and Panama free trade agreements (FTAs), combined could represent nearly $3 billion of additional agriculture exports for the nation’s farmers.

For their part, Farm Bureau’s volunteer leaders have helped lead the statewide charge from North Carolina to help garner support for passage of the Colombia, Panama and Korea FTAs.

Farm Bureau county presidents, state and county Farm Bureau board members, as well as YF&R committees and women’s committees were recently asked to promote these trade agreements to their members of Congress.

This strategic effort to urge Congress to pass the Colombia, Panama and Korea FTAs was in response to American Farm Bureau’s launch of the “Trade Matters” campaign. This campaign was a true grassroots campaign, with local leaders rising to the call for support.

As the sparkplugs that start the engine of the state and nation’s largest general farm organizations, Farm Bureau volunteer leaders were needed immediately to communicate with legislators about the importance of expanding North Carolina’s international trading opportunities. And they have responded, but there is still much to be done.

This is another example of how Farm Bureau is working to help improve the quality of life for the farmers and rural residents of North Carolina. Yet it is also an instance of how something good for farmers also provides opportunity for the rest of the state to prosper.

World demand is increasing, but so is competition among suppliers.  If North Carolina’s farmers and food industry are to compete successfully for the export opportunities of the 21st century, they need fair trade and more open access to growing global markets.

American Farm Bureau has also worked to educate and provide outreach services to its 6.28 million member families across the nation. Throughout the great state of North Carolina, there are nearly 53,000 financially active farms that could potentially benefit from an increase in the state’s export fortunes, which can only be brought about through trade deals that benefit America’s export to import ratio.

The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement would immediately eliminate duties on nearly two-thirds of current U.S. agricultural exports to Korea and give U.S. exporters improved access to the Korean market for many products that have been highly protected.

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that annual U.S. agricultural exports to Korea will increase by a minimum of $1.9 billion upon full implementation of the agreement. The agreement eliminates tariffs and other barriers on most agricultural products, increasing export opportunities for a range of North Carolina agricultural products, including poultry, hogs and pork, soybeans and products, and cotton.

Nor th Carolina’s agricultural exports to all countries, estimated at $2.9 billion in 2009, supported about 24,400 jobs, on and off the farm. These export sales make an important contribution to the North Carolina farm economy, which had total cash receipts of $9.2 billion in 2009.

Many other representatives of the U.S. food and agriculture industry, outside of Farm Bureau, have clearly stated their support for swift passage of the pending U.S. trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. A partial list of the supporters is as follows:

National Association of ManufacturersLarry  Wooten NCFB President
Coalition of Service Industries
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Caterpillar
American Soybean Association
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
Corn Refiners Association (CRA)
The Dow Chemical Company
The National Foreign Trade Council

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