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AMI Guest Editorial: Free Trade Agreements Will Help Create New Jobs at Home

Thursday, September 23, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

“While trade deals can often take years or decades to forge, there is some low hanging fruit on the tree that is just waiting to be harvested,” says AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle in a guest editorial in The Sauk Valley Newspapers.  “That fruit comes in the form of three Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) – with South Korea, Colombia and Panama – that were negotiated during the Bush Administration, but are still awaiting passage by Congress.”

Boyle points out that passage and full implementation of these three currently pending FTAs would represent an additional $2.3 billion in meat and poultry exports and the potential creation of 29,524 new jobs, mostly in America’s heartland. “The data reveal that passage of the agreements could increase U.S. exports of beef by $1.4 billion, pork by $772 million and poultry by $102 million, according to projections from the respective commodity groups.”  Boyle cites USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and industry groups who state that every $1 billion of product sold has the potential to create either 12,700 jobs in the beef industry, 13,333 jobs in the pork industry or 11,853 jobs in the poultry industry.

“And these figures only represent opening up trade with three countries out of a potential pool of several dozen,” says Boyle.   “In fact, overall, USDA estimates that every $1 received from agricultural exports generates another $1.48 in supporting business activities here in the U.S.,” he says.  “The bottom line is promoting exports translates into new jobs at home.”


Boyle adds that naturally, this would also mean jobs and revenue for Illinois, since Illinois is not only a major cattle processing state, but a major hog processing state as well.  “In fact, the industry employs an estimated 291,211 people in Illinois, who earn nearly $12 billion in wages and have an economic footprint of nearly $48 billion,” he adds.


Boyle explains that despite this country’s imperative to create new and good-paying jobs and foster economic growth, the major forces blocking these agreements from being passed are domestic, not foreign.  “Protectionists in the U.S. fail to see that international trade actually diversifies our economy, expands employment opportunities, and allows us to enjoy the benefits of growth,” he adds. “If FTAs are not passed, American agriculture will lose those opportunities to our competitors in other countries.”


To see the op-ed in its entirety, click here:  http://bit.ly/chkdPV


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