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Report Released on 3rd Anniversary of the May 10 Agreement Shows American Agriculture Being Left Behind by Administration’s Failed Trade Policy

May 10, 2010

Washington, DC – Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI), Agriculture Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) today released the following statements on the third anniversary of the bipartisan May 10 agreement as well as a report showing the harm suffered by American agriculture due to a failure to move forward on pending trade agreements:

CAMP: “It has been three years since Congress reached a bipartisan compromise on a new framework designed to move forward on America’s trade policy, but the trade agenda has collapsed through inaction by the Administration and key Democrats in Congress.  As a result, American workers are worse off and falling further behind our competitors, as shown by the study that we released today.  With over 15 million Americans unemployed, workers don’t need more talk about expanding exports to create jobs; they need us to actually create those jobs by finding a path forward on the pending trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama.”

LUCAS: “Exports are critical to the vitality of rural America because they add much needed capital in rural communities for reinvestment and economic development. American farmers and ranchers work hard to produce an abundant supply of food and fiber for the U.S. and the world, which is evident by the fact that the agricultural industry has historically maintained a trade surplus.   However, American farmers and ranchers lose economic opportunities every day that Congress fails to pass the Colombian free trade agreement.  This report shows in one year, from 2008 to 2009, our farmers lost over $800 million in market access in Colombia.  If the President is serious about developing the rural economy, there is no better place to start than by allowing our farmers and ranchers to benefit from the access we have already negotiated for their products, which provides an opportunity for them to reinvest in their own communities.”

BRADY: “At a time when the unemployment rate is almost 10%, the failure of the Administration and Congressional Democrats to advance America’s export interests hurts every American worker. Saying you want something doesn’t count unless you do something to achieve it.  According to the President’s own analysis, the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea would create 250,000 new private sector jobs – 250,000 more private sector jobs than were created by the failed trillion dollar stimulus.  The Administration and Congressional Democrats have stood on the sidelines for too long.  They need to show leadership and resolve any outstanding issues so Congress can approve the pending trade agreements quickly in order to realize their real economic and job growth potential.”

The report shows that the delay in implementation of the trade agreement with Colombia has resulted in a significant decline in U.S. agriculture exports.  While the Administration and Democrats in Congress have stalled action, Argentina and Brazil have implemented their trade agreements with Colombia and used the resulting duty-free access to take market share away from America’s farmers and ranchers.  The report finds:

  • Total U.S. agriculture exports to Colombia declined by 48%.
  • American farmers lost market share to Argentina and Brazil in such key sectors as, corn, wheat, soybeans, and soybean oil.
  • American farmers and ranchers could lose even more exports and market share in Colombia if Canada and the European Union implement their trade agreements with Colombia before the United States