Congressman Jerry Moran continued to make the case this week for passage of three pending trade agreements to open new markets for Kansas wheat farmers, who are facing increasing domestic supplies and falling local cash prices, as harvest progresses across the state. Moran made his support clearly known during debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, discussion within a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing, and in a bipartisan letter sent to President Obama. The pending trade agreements include the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, and the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
"New market access is critical for Kansas wheat farmers who are encountering growing wheat supplies and declining prices. Unable to move wheat on the world market, grain elevators are dropping the cash price paid to local farmers. If these trade agreements were approved, duties on U.S. wheat in these three countries would immediately be eliminated, creating new opportunities for wheat exports," said Moran.
Moran emphasized the importance of the agreements during debate on H. Res. 1465, a resolution reaffirming the longstanding friendship and alliance between the United States and Colombia. Moran supported the resolution, but made clear the best way to show support for the Colombian people and the American economy would be to approve the pending trade agreement with Colombia. Currently, over 90 percent of Colombian goods enter the U.S. duty free, but U.S. goods including wheat and other agricultural commodities are assessed significant tariffs upon entering Colombia.
Moran again encouraged Congressional approval of the trade agreements during a hearing held by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. During discussion about the weakening wheat basis in Kansas, Moran asked Erik Younggren, a witness from the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), what would help alleviate the situation. Younggren said the weak basis was a symptom of large ending wheat stocks, and said the stocks would be reduced if Congress passed the Colombia, Panama, and Korea trade agreements.
Finally, Moran was among 50 members of Congress who urged President Obama to work with Congress to pass the three pending agreements, which Congressional leaders have so far refused to bring to a vote on the House floor. The Colombia trade agreement is approaching four years since it was signed, while it has been three years since the Panama and Korea trade agreements were signed. Attached is a copy of the letter.