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Published September 26, 2011, 04:30 AM

Minnesota agriculture could benefit from increased exports

ST. PAUL — Agriculture exports are critical to farmers and are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy. Free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama have been stalled for several years, causing major trading opportunities to diminish.

By: Kevin Paap,

ST. PAUL — Agriculture exports are critical to farmers and are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy. Free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama have been stalled for several years, causing major trading opportunities to diminish.

Economic analysis, performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, estimates that annual direct U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea, Colombia and Panama will increase by nearly $2.5 billion upon full implementation, which will create approximately 22,000 U.S. jobs.

Job creation potential

In total, the agreements are expected to increase direct exports from Minnesota by $99.1 million per year. The agreements particularly will increase trade for pork, beef, soybeans, corn, dairy, wheat and processed food and fish, resulting in nearly 900 additional jobs in Minnesota.

As a farmer, I realize the importance of gaining long-term access to a growing market. Soybeans are Minnesota’s second-largest source of farm cash receipts, which totaled $2.6 billion in 2009. Minnesota’s direct exports of soybeans and products to South Korea are estimated to increase $8.3 million per year. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement will provide access to South Korea’s 300,000-metric ton market for food-quality soybeans. South Korea has agreed to immediately eliminate its 5 percent applied tariff on food-use soybeans.

Additionally, there are benefits from the increased export of meat products because of the indirect increasing export of corn and soybeans. Indirect exports of corn as a result of the agreement are estimated to be $17.6 million per year. Indirect exports of soybeans and products are estimated to by $6.6 million per year.

Each day that goes by without passing the agreements provides more opportunity for other countries to negotiate their own deals and less opportunity for job expansion in the U.S. As long as the administration and Congress fail to act on the pending trade deals, our role as a major trading partner diminishes, as well as opportunity for U.S. job creation. Farm Bureau urges the administration and Congress to expedite passage of these trade deals.

Editor’s Note: Paap is a grain farmer from Garden City, Minn., and president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.

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